On the edge of Shuswap Lake, the inaugural Pellsqepts Spring Winds Music Festival is buzzing with hundreds of people celebrating Indigenous culture.
The one day music and art festival is in partnership with the Salmon Arm Folk Music Society and is open to all ages and anyone who wishes to attend.
“We are here for the Pellsqepts gathering celebration of Indigenous music,” said Cstélnec Tk’wemi’ple7 (Adams Lake Councillor) Xwe’xena (Joyce Kenoras).
“We have invited all our neighbours, friends and community members to be here with us.”
Not only was there live music and art but also vendors, bannock, ice cream and more to enjoy.
Kenthen Thomas, the indigenous and youth coordinator of the Salmon Arm Folk Music Society says that festivals like this are an important part of Truth and Reconciliation.
“With the age of Truth and Reconciliation a lot of times the truth is bitter and ugly and we need to go through that bitter and ugliness but we are resilient people we went through Indian Residential Schools, the finding of the children,” said Thomas.
“But, there are times we need to celebrate too, we need to laugh and smile and be together.”
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Swelacken (Howard Shields) is performing with a group of Stʼatʼimc Bear Dancers that are part of revitalizing a ceremony that he says was lost for decades.
“I am a traditional bear dancer from the Stʼatʼimc nation,” said Swelacken
“The Bear Dance is a traditional ceremony, a healing and protection ceremony. It was put away for many many years because of the Potlatch laws and the Catholic church not allowing us to do our traditional ceremonies. So it was put away for probably generations and so it’s within probably the last 10 years that it’s come back.”
Dancing as a family Bernice Jensen keeps her tradition and culture strong by performing together as All My Relations First Nations Dance Group.
“All My Relations First Nations Dance Group is a family group, we are based out of the Okanagan and Secwepemc Territories,” said Jensen.
“We literally have our family dancing, my sisters, my sons, my daughters, my nephews, nieces, the grandchildren are dancing now.”
Though the Indigenous Music Festival ends when the sun sets, organizers hope it will remain part of the community for years to come.