National Aboriginal Day was celebrated a day early at the Qualicum Beach Farmers’ Market on Saturday, when students from Oceanside Elementary performed two traditional aboriginal dances along with their teacher.
“We’re losing our culture as First Nations. If I don’t share what we have then we’re going to lose it, and these students love it,” said Linda Ermineskin, First Nations liaison for Oceanside Elementary.
The first dance was to welcome the market and students used paddles to mimic the rowing of a canoe. The second was more personal, a form of prayer that was created by Ermineskin’s brother that used eagle feathers to symbolize getting over a difficult time-period in one’s life.
“I’m very proud to be sharing my culture with Oceanside,” Ermineskin said.
National Aboriginal Day was Sunday.
“I wanted to introduce aboriginal culture and food to the market,” said Lorne MacCallum, president of the market.
MacCallum said Qualicum First Nations Chief Michael Recalma was enthusiastic towards the idea of adding more First Nations culture to the market.
“The word Qualicum means from where the dog salmon are from,” MacCallum said.
“The Qualicum First Nations lived here for thousands of years successfully without doing a whole bunch of damage and then as the world evolved and more western cultures (came), things (changed), but it would be neat to make sure people realize there was a history here before what we all see today,” MacCallum said.
Ermineskin has been spreading First Nations culture at elementary schools for years.
A majority of First Nations history was recorded in stories and oral communications, Ermineskin said.
Teaching the students and passing down this culture is important because it’s the only way to keep the culture alive, Ermineskin said.
“When that culture vanishes or disappears that culture is gone forever,” she said.