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Festival offering music, comedy and support for residential school survivors

‘Orange Day in the Bay’ taking place in Snaw-Naw-As First Nation July 1
Peter Hudson and Tyler Bob (from left) are the organizers of Orange Day in the Bay. (Photo submitted)

A celebration of unity on Snaw-Naw-As First Nation will offer music and comedy while also recognizing residential school survivors and giving Indigenous speakers a platform to speak to their experiences.

The event is called Orange Day in the Bay, as orange is the colour associated with acknowledging what happened under the residential school program and showing support for its survivors. The festival is organized by Nanaimo comedian Peter Hudson and Tyler Bob of Snaw-Naw-As First Nation. While Orange Day is taking place on July 1, Hudson said it’s “not anti-Canada Day,” but rather an alternative way to celebrate together.

“Canada-wide now I understand that some events are being cancelled and I understand that that’s being done out of respect,” Bob said. “But we also need to be able to talk and share about what’s going on.”

With the recent uncovering of unmarked grave sites at residential schools, Bob said the event is meant to acknowledge “in a healthy way” the realities of the residential school program and make a show of cross-cultural unity and mental health support as the news results in renewed trauma. Bob himself is a third-generation residential school survivor and will be one of the speakers, sharing “what I think should be shared.”

The proceeds from the event will benefit the Setut Group, an organization set up by Bob and his wife Ines Alvarado. Bob said Setut translates to “pay it forward” and the initiative aims to “revive culture back into our community” with the goal of eventually offering support beyond Snaw-Naw-As. He said Alvarado will lead a youth language education program while he will work on an athletic program and work toward bringing canoe racing back to the community.

Hudson brought in the entertainment. He said he approached people he respected and that would be a good fit for the show to volunteer their time and everybody was grateful to be a part of it.

By featuring Indigenous speakers as part of the festival, Bob hopes to provide a platform for survivors to share their stories. He said seeing people from other nations start to speak out makes it a lot easier for one to come forward with one’s own past and traumas.

“What we want to do is show our people that we can help process this in a healthy way by adding some comedy and music after our ceremony, after our recognition of our survivors,” he said. “So in First Nations culture, if you’ve been around reserves when you’re growing up or younger or had First Nations friends, it’s always about laughter. Our communities are always about being together and sharing laughs together and that’s a part of our process and that’s a part of our medicine is having some good music, some good laughs. So this is all based on community.”

WHAT’S ON … Orange Day in the Bay takes place at 209 Mallard Way, Nanoose on July 1 from 12 to 8:30 p.m. Entry by suggested $20 donation. Limited entry, COVID-19 protocols in place. For full lineup view the event poster here.

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