Indigenous peoples’ culture took centre field at the Lloydminster City Hall grounds on Monday evening. The occasion was the 25th anniversary of the observance of Indigenous Peoples Day in Canada.

Drumming, dancing and singing filled the evening. The stories shared by Residential School survivors told the saga of courage and resiliency in the face of the Indian Residential School system that sought to remove their culture, language and history from the very land of their ancestors.

Event organizer Trysta Cook says in the wake of the Kamloops 215 unmarked grave site discovery, First Nations issues are more out there. Cook says she feels more acknowledged as an Indigenous person.

“I’ve found lately that people are actually respecting me now in public and saying,’Hi’ and I feel more proud to be Indigenous. Before I I never felt that. [I felt I was] lowering myself almost. I would stay in the back. Now I’m walking around and people are saying,’Hi’ to me and looking at me in the eyes. That acknowledging of an Indigenous person is a great way to help out and start.”

Cook is thankful for all the help she got to put the event together and the input from the Onion Lake First Nations Community.

Band Councillor Delores Chief says people can make a start towards Reconciliation by acknowledging the past even as they look to the future.

“We are all affected by this. We felt the pain of our ancestors, but we are resilient people. We are still here and always will be. We will continue advocating  for our people, our survivors and for our youth; our unborn, as they are the future and they will carry on the legacy of what our ancestors had endured. They will show how resilient we are as First Nations people.”

Lloydminster City Council members were also present including Deputy Mayor Jonathan Torresan who shared greetings and sentiments on behalf of the City.

The evening concluded with a candle lighting ceremony.