Members of Cowichan Tribes and their guests marked July 1 with a community event that, instead of commemorating Canada Day, provided a time to get together after months apart and reflect on some of the tragic injustices inflicted on Canada’s Indigenous people.
The event at the Si’em Lelum fields was organized by Sophia Elliott after other community members inquired about local gatherings on July 1. Elliott started the event on Facebook, then connected with other members who helped with outreach, support and resources.
“Like everyone, we haven’t been able to gather,” Elliott said. “We also haven’t been able to come together for cultural work or times of sorrow the way we normally would. In times of sorrow one teaching is that people are medicine; their presence helps alleviate some of the emotional burden for the ones in mourning. With losses in many communities in addition to the little ones being uncovered on the sites of former Indian Residential Schools grief and sorrow are still weighing heavily so I wanted this day for us to come together whether it was to sing, pray, share, or just simply be present.”
Several dozen members of Cowichan Tribes and the larger community gathered at the field for the event, the majority wearing orange shirts proclaiming “Every Child Matters.”
“I wanted a space for us to be together and uplift one another,” Elliott related. “There was no formal agenda. One of our elders present [Merle Seymour] opened with a prayer, he called upon another to share some words, then some of the Tzinquaw singers arrived right after finishing at another event. It was a small window for planning and outreach but it seemed to still come together quite nicely. We were grateful for the Kona Ice team as they are a positive presence in the Cowichan Valley and we appreciate the work they do through their business.
“I raise my hands to the community members that came, the guests, allies, singers and drummers, and especially the elders/speakers who shared with us.”