National Aboriginal Day

A special feeling experienced by many during celebration of First Nations heritage

Cory Hurley
Published on June 21, 2014

Andrea Doucette experiences something special when she comes together with her fellow aboriginal people to celebrate their heritage.

The Deer Lake woman was one of many who attended National Aboriginal Day activities in Corner Brook at Margaret Bowater Park Saturday.

She has frequented these types of events in recent years and has really been captivated with learning about her ancestry and her culture.

“The last few years has been an opportunity to capture some lost information,” Doucette said. “I think that applies to a lot of people who were here (Saturday) too. It gives us a chance to connect.”

She participated in the smudging ceremony and, as a member of the aboriginal women’s group, got the chance to play the big drum Saturday. That meant a lot to her.

“It is a big honour,” she said.

Doucette was happy to see a big crowd participating, something she has grown accustomed to seeing.

“It’s wonderful, the energy,” she said. “There’s something about that drum. It’s like a heartbeat.”

Mitch Blanchard, resource co-ordinator with the Qalipu Mi’kmaq First Nations Band, knows a thing or two about drums. He was front and centre in the drum-making demonstration. He said it was a great honour to pass along his knowledge to an eager audience.

“It’s very special, very touching to know that the interest is there and people want to learn,” Blanchard said.

He said the men of the aboriginal community are now starting their own drumming group.

Blanchard said there is something special about being able to make and play your own drum.

“It’s a big connection — very spiritual,” he said. “I did a degree and that was great. It was theory-based, but to be able to do stuff with your hands and see it come into its fullness is very personal.”

It wasn’t only people of aboriginal descent taking part in the events. Ryan Burton was there in support of his wife Kristen Pittman. He was volunteering, doing what he could to help out Saturday.

“This is really something to see,” he said. “It has really taken off in Newfoundland now. It is really nice to see such a great turn out again.”

He also found the activities and demonstration educational.

*** Edited June 23***




Today was a day of celebration at Margaret Bowater Park in Corner Brook as National Aboriginal Day activities were held.

However, it was also a good chance for some learning about tradition and culture. About 95 people were said to have attended the lighting of the sacred fire at 5:30 a.m., and a large crowd continued to mingle throughout the day.

There was a medicine walk in the morning, along with basket and drum making demonstrations. The rain put a damper on the afternoon activities, but many stayed at the park for lunch and activities such as drumming and singing.