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Kelowna  

Celebrating Aboriginal heritage

The parking lot behind the Ki-Low-Na Friendship Society was packed with people, music and crafts on Thursday.

June 21 marks National Aboriginal Day, a chance to recognize cultures and contributions of the First Nations, Inuit and Metis Peoples of Canada.

Around 1500 people came down to the corner of Lawrence and Ellis to check out the day's events, which included, face painting, traditional music and a powwow.

Grade five students from School District 23 were given the chance to attend the event and learn about Aboriginal culture through story telling that takes place in a teepee.  The society also hosts a business lunch and a dinner for those who want to come down to the event.

Kathleen Bray, the event coordinator, says,  National Aboriginal Day was created in 1982 by the National Indian Brotherhood and always corresponds with the first day of summer.

"It's a time of abundance a time of gathering. In our traditions all the tribes would gather on the same day, people would get married on the summer solstice because it was a sign of growth, animals and new life."

Bray sees National Aboriginal Day as a time for people to gather as one, and she says it's a chance for all of Kelowna to recognize what a great community it is.

"Ottawa has a big event and so does Toronto and Vancouver, but Kelowna is getting there. Last year was pretty big and we are preparing to get bigger each year."

Close to 50 people volunteered for the event and Bray says more people keep showing up to lend a hand.

"People who are walking ask if we need a hand and I say sure, come sign-up, get a free T-shirt and help us celebrate."

The Ki-Low-Na Friendship Society has hosted a Summer Solstice event since the doors opened in 1974.

National Aboriginal Day is part of a series to Celebrate Canada days, beginning with National Aboriginal Day, and followed by St-Jean Baptiste Day on June 24, Canadian Multiculturalism Day on June 27, and ending with Canada Day on July 1.

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