The Fernie Heritage Library compiled a list of books pertaining to Indigenous culture. Photo Submitted

The Elk Valley celebrates Indigenous Peoples Day

With National Indigenous Peoples Day falling on June 21, the Fernie Heritage Library shared a variety of resources throughout the week to celebrate Indigenous culture.

To encourage reading Indigenous themed books, the library compiled a list of children’s titles celebrating their culture, including Fire Song by Adam Garnet Jones, nibi is water, nibi aawon nbiish by Joanne Robertson, and I’m Finding My Talk by Rebecca Thomas.

The library also put together a list of resources for the Awareness and Accountability Project, a local Fernie organization advocating for the rights of Black, Indigenous and people of colour. Pulling resources for adults, they shared a collection of books teaching about the history and culture of both Black and Indigenous peoples.

According to Michelle Kucera-Boyd, community programmer at the library, by living on Ktunaxa land in British Columbia, our culture is intrinsically interwoven with that of Indigenous culture. As such, we must honour and celebrate it as often as possible.

This previous week, Kucera-Boyd’s library programming for children was also Indigenous themed. Both Storytime sessions as well as their Toddlertime session revolved around Indigenous themed books. To further celebrate Indigenous culture, this week’s Reading Club also shared a video of an Indigenous woman named Rowena Marko showing viewers how to make bannock, a fry bread. All videos and recipes can be accessed on their Facebook page.

The Ktunaxa Nation’s Facebook page also shared a post this week, announcing that due to COVID-19, their annual Kootenai Falls gathering was to be held via Zoom on June 19 from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m.

While celebrations of Indigenous culture carried out throughout the week, The Free Press interviewed Martina Escutin (Shovar), a member of the Ktunaxa Nation, who reminds the Elk Valley that Indigenous culture should be celebrated more often.

“I think Indigenous culture should be celebrated every day. For me it is extremely important, especially with everything happening right now. I think with the society we live in, people of colour, whether they are Black or Indigenous, feel like they need to have an excuse to celebrate who they are, but I think this should happen all the time, and that’s where my language learning platform on Instagram comes in,” said Escutin.

Escutin runs an Instagram account called @Ktunaxa.Learning.Lady, where she teaches her followers the Ktunaxa language. After taking a endangered languages class at the University of British Columbia, she realized how important language is in revitalizing Indigenous communities. After putting off learning how to speak her language for years, Escutin’s university education inspired her to dive into learning once again.

Escutin now uses her Instagram to encourage people to learn and teach languages no matter where they are or what their previous experience may be. Through her social media, she also wants to encourage people of colour to embrace and celebrate their culture, their identity, and their heritage. In light of National Indigenous Peoples Day, she urges everyone to start conversations about Indigenous identity and culture as a way of celebrating it.

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