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Aboriginal Day In the Nicola Valley

Celebrating Aboriginal Day in Merritt BC June 21, 2019

People in the Nicola Valley Celebrate Aboriginal Day

 

We celebrated Aboriginal Day in the Nicola Valley Merritt BC on June 21, 2019. Canada’s Governor General proclaimed the first National Aboriginal Day in 1996. Every year since then June 21 is the day for all Canadians to celebrate Canada’s  First Nation’s Aboriginal Peoples.

There are three Aboriginal groups in Canada – the First Nations, Inuit, and Métis peoples.

Celebrating Aboriginal Day in The Nicola Valley Merritt BC

Along with the pounding Heartbeat of Mother Earth, the Regalia worn by the dancers will surely amaze you. A great day at Merritt’s Rotary Park on June 21, 2019. In case you missed it here is my photo collage for you to enjoy.

Aboriginal Day June 21, 2019.

Aboriginal Dance Regalia

Regalia is unique and sacred to each dancer. Therefore not to be ever confused with or referred to as costumes. Regalia is adorned with various materials. Most noteworthy Regalia outfits feature intricate beadwork (often sewn by a family member or friend), while others use ribbons, shiny materials or the use of traditional materials, such as porcupine quills.  While the ceremonial dress is beautiful to look at, pow wow etiquette requests that observers not touch or take pictures of dancers’ regalia without permission.

 

Women Dancers in full Regalia.

Experiencing Aboriginal Day in The Nicola Valley.

Crystal Spahan with her children dressed in their traditional First Nation regalia.

Aboriginal Day

Crystal’s regalia hand sewn and made by her Aunt.

Aboriginal Day

Crystal Spahan with her two beautiful children in their Regalia.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Beautiful Handmade Regalia

Noteworthy Crystal  Spahan’s elaborate shawl is uniquely decorated with distinct flower patterns, beadwork along with flowing fringes.

 

Back on the Red Road for the last 2 years.

Pow Wow Dances are Expressions of Indigenous Spirituality, History and Culture

In addition with the festivities going on, Aboriginal Day is also a day of learning about Canada’s Indigenous culture.  In fact I was honored to meet Stuart Patrick preparing his sons Regalia along with his own. He was ensuring that their regalia was well-secured before their performance.  Furthermore, I was welcome to interview Stuart Patrick.

Stuart Patrick

(Q1)  Are you from the Nicola Valley?

(Stuart Patrick) I am from Uclue Let (U-Cloo-let) Vancouver Island. I went to 2 residential schools, Christy Residential in Tofino first, and then closed Kamloops Residential School down.

(Q2)  When did you start to dance?

(Stuart Patrick) I dance for survival. I have quit cutting my hair, I am done with mourning. We lost our Potlatch rights when I was seven. I have always chased the “Pow wow” We dance for the seven generations before us, and for the seven generations after us.
I started walking the “Red Road”. After the second year you pick what you want, like dancing, drumming. You join the circle for life.

 

Aboriginal Day

Raven Patrick. Pow wow clothing and accessories are created with great care and attention,  hold deep meaning and spiritual significance to the dancer.

(Q3)  Were did you get your Eagle feathers?

(Stuart Patrick) A Fire Fighter from Merritt found a dead Eagle and gave the feathers to me.

(Q4) Do your children also dance?

(Stuart Patrick) My son Jacob is wearing my first Regalia outfit. And my daughter Raven is wearing the blue Regalia outfit. They both perform regularly throughout BC. We go to Pow Wows and perform at University’s and College’s.

(Q5) Who makes your Regalia?

(Stuart Patrick) Janice Sheena and Abraham Sheena. The beadwork.

(Q6) What dances do you perform?

(Stuart Patrick) I do traditional potlatch mask dancing. The Humming Bird and the Chicken Dance.

 

Jacob Patrick with his father Stuart Patrick.

In Addition 

Aboriginal Day

Celebrating Indigenous Day in full Regalia. Merritt BC Rotary Park.

The Work and Detail that Goes Into These Beautiful Regalia Dress

Desiree Dick has been dancing since she was 3 yrs old. Along with her mother Adriene Johnny & sister Kirsten Dick (Hand Drummer at MSS) they all have a “Passion for the Pow Wow”.  Desiree’s Grandmother was the artist behind her Regalia.

 

Desiree Dick

With The Beating of The Drums and The Dancers Performance

While the  Dancers take great care to ensure that their regalia is well-secured before a performance. Losing a part of regalia during a dance could cost a dancer the competition. Although this day was not a competition, but the work and care is very visible.

Cliff…. Stuart Patrick and son Jacob.

Additionally More Beautiful Regalia

Nadine Jules with daughter.

Awesome attendance at Merritt Rotary Park on Aboriginal Day

Furthermore with the beating of the drums and performing dancers. Everyone in attendance had a amazing day!

Rotary Park

People enjoying the festivities.

Pounding of Your Heartbeat

Above all hearing the Drum beat along with the vocals gathers all peoples together, regardless of gender, belief, or race. The throbbing pull of the Drum connects us, one to another, with the pounding Heartbeat of Mother Earth.

The Drummers. Leanard Bear Shirt, Robin Boston, Nadine Jules, Joelee Meldrum, Nate Dawgg. Red Spotted Horse.

A Bit of Culture Education

Drumming has always played a significant role in education, healing, history and ceremonies of the Native American peoples. Oral histories and stories, accompanied by drumming, play a vital role in passing on ancestral traditions and customs to new generations.

Warming of the Drum.

The Sound of the Drums Could be Heard Through Out the Nicola Valley

Nate Dawgg. Drummer & Dancer

Additionally A Teepee Was Set Up For All To Enjoy

Getting in touch with my Aboriginal Heritage.

Celebrating Indigenous Culture

Especially seeing all the Regalia and the dancing can transform you back in time.

 

 

Full Regalia

After All

Proclaimed June 21  National Aboriginal Day in 1996. It is a day to celebrate Canada’s First Nation’s Aboriginal peoples. Make sure you mark your calendar next year, June 21.

Teepee set up at Merritt BC Rotary Park for Aboriginal Day Celebrations.

Aboriginal Day in the Nicola Valley

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Looking for Things To Do in the Nicola Valley?

Shop Local in Merritt, BC – Vision Quest Optical and Gifts

“Come Downtown and Buy Something!”

Shop local in Merritt, BC

Decorative BC designed drum bag

Jeanine Gustafson, owner of Vision Quest Optical and Gifts, encourages people to shop local in Merritt BC and support our businesses. That’s the message she would like to send out to the people who live in the Nicola Valley.

Vision Quest is an eclectic shop right on the corner of Quilchena and Voght Street, a corner everyone passes when they are downtown Merritt. Jeanine has a prime location on the main block, and fills her windows with a lively display all year round. If you pop in to see what’s there, you’ll find jewelry, gems, glass frames, toys, cards, books and local art.

On the Quest for Vision Services? Glass Frames?

Jeanine is an optician with 30 years experience and her shop began as a way for her to offer optical services to the people in the community. You can find a room full of diverse frames for children, women, and men in Vision Quest shop, and Jeanine can help you find a frame you like and fulfill your prescription. She offers one more great choice in the community before a person decides to head off for Kamloops or to online services. Definitely worth checking out!

Looking for Local Art?

Shop Local in Merritt, BC

Bead Jewelry Galore

Over the ten years Jeanine has been providing options for vision care, she has expanded the offerings in her shop. Vision Quest is full of art, crafts, and jewelry created by about 40 local artists.

All year round there are gifts, mementos, and useful items to choose from: cards by Marilyn Lytton, blankets from Amelia Washington, handmade soap from Les Keys, baskets and beading from Charles McKay.

Jeanine herself creates feather earrings and other jewelry. There are painted tiles and jewelry by Pauline Ouellet, cards by photographer Heidi Koehler, beading by Ashala Harvie. And beautiful pained rocks by local artist Georgina Beatty!

1st Nations Art

Jeanine says the majority of the artists showing their work at Vision Quest are 1st Nations from the Nicola Valley, and some

Shop Local in Merritt, BC

1st Nations Art

from nearby regions like Lillooet. Her contacts also provide her with 1st Nations items designed in BC to satisfy her visitors from other provinces and countries. Look for beautiful designs on drum bags, a red lampshade, beaded earrings, medallions, baskets, cards…

The prices at Vision Quest are reasonable and range from about $5 to…more. I was very taken with a gorgeous across-the-shoulder bright turquoise suede bag, for just over $100.

The local work in Jeanine’s lively, full shop is worth a leisurely search.

But I will admit that the jewelry, especially the gem jewelry, at Vision Quest often draws me through the welcoming doors on Quilchena Avenue.

Gems and Trinkets Galore!

Shop Local in Merritt, BC

Gems and Jewelry

Jeanine’s windows are full of her jewelry, hanging or displayed in photo frames. And once you are in the shop, the jewelry is displayed in every cabinet, and in every nook and cranny. Amethysts, rose quartz, topaz, garnets, you name it. There are simple pendants to elaborately set jewelry, rings, earrings, bracelets in all shapes and colours.

There is also a diverse assortment of costume jewelry and a variety of pretty bags for storing your gems and trinkets.

What else?

Jeanine carries local books from local authors when possible, fun toys for kids, guitar pics…

And a good supply of beading supplies: seed beads, gem beads, and others, and lots of supporting items like thread.

Business in Merritt

I asked Jeanine what support she gets from the community. And her reply, “I am still open.”

Shopping Local in Merritt, BC

Tiny decorative painted bird houses

In my opinion, with years of experience in owning a retail business myself, ten years is a success story!

Jeanine Gustafson is the owner of Vision Quest, renting her prime location from the local owners of the building. She has been open for ten years and is very familiar with what works downtown, and what doesn’t. She talks about how she is supported by the City of Merritt’s policies and attention.

What Works?

Shop local in Merritt, BC

Hand made baby moccasins

Jeanine talks about other businesses and organizations which are supportive. For instance, she mentions how helpful the Open Door was to her. And comments on the support that Work BC has given to people she knows.

“All sorts of fun people come in!”

Jeanine enjoys the people who come in. She has regulars who pop in for tea and chats. She serves a steady flow of people coming in for optician services. And she welcomes all the visitors to town who make their way through her doors.

As we know, Merritt attracts people from all over the world. Jeanine often acts as an ambassador and tells people where to go in town, and what is happening locally. She has stories she shares with visitors, things I didn’t know about the history of some of the surrounding buildings and I’ve lived here for a lot longer….

What do you enjoy the most?

I asked Jeanine what she enjoys most about her business. After a moment’s thought, she describes the fun she has setting up

Shop local in Merritt, BC

Feather earrings by Jeanine Gustafson

the Christmas windows! Jeanine possesses the considerable Christmas village collection of the late Marguerite Kempin, a long time resident of the valley. It takes Jeanine a month to set it up, with no days off! And it will take a month to take down, ready for the next display! So it was great to hear that is a favourite part of her shop experiences.

I enjoy the Christmas window! And I know others who do too, some who take their grandchildren downtown to view it all.

Have you seen it? Whoops, it may be too late for this year. But the next display in Vision Quest’s display windows, on the corner of Voght Street and Quilchena Avenue will be there soon. Stroll by! Pop in!

Vision Quest is open Tuesday to Friday 10am-6pm, Saturday 11am-5pm. Closed Sunday and Monday.

But Jeanine is open on Mondays in the summer months. She says Monday is a busy day in Merritt in the summer!

And how will she keep going in the slow months? Jeanine’s message to the locals: “Come downtown and buy something!”

Now that’s a positive message that supports all the shops in Merritt!

Thanks, Jeanine! Good visit!

Shop local in Merritt BC

Blue suede bag

 

Contact Jeanine Gustafson at Vision Quest visionquestoptical@gmail.com

Vision Quest Optical and Gifts Facebook

More on the arts and culture scene in the Nicola Valley

And if you want to see more local art visit our local Arts Gallery at the heritage Courthouse on Nicola Avenue.

And visit our Nicola Valley Arts Council site, to see what’s happening in the arts in our valley.

The NVCAC is also on Facebook.

And check out my Creative Community Facebook page.

Shop local in Merritt, BC

Shopping at Vision Quest

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