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The City of Saint John sign is pictured in this file photo. Image: Aaron Sousa

Saint John to mark National Indigenous Peoples Day

By Brad Perry Jun 20, 2023 | 6:00 PM

Several events are taking place in Saint John on Wednesday to mark National Indigenous Peoples Day.

A sacred fire will be lit at sunrise at Tucker Park Beach, across from The Brothers reservation.

Wolastoqey Elder Chris Brooks will begin the traditional lighting of the fire at 5:30 a.m. followed by a water ceremony.

Elder Brooks will be on site until 3 p.m. to greet visitors and answer questions about the traditional ceremony.

The sacred fire is an Indigenous traditional wellness approach, considered to be a doorway that opens to a spiritual realm where people can communicate and connect with their ancestors.

Sacred items such as tobacco, sage, cedar, and sweetgrass can be placed in the fire along with food as an offering.

Brooks will help lead people through the process and tobacco will be available for anyone who would like to participate.

There will be a drum gathering and procession in King’s Square at 11:30 a.m.

A drum procession will lead participants to City Hall for a flag-raising at noon. Both the Wolastoqey and Mi’kmaq Grand Council flags will be raised.

National Indigenous Peoples Day recognizes and celebrates the unique heritage, diverse cultures and outstanding contributions of First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples.

The day coincides with the summer solstice, which is a significant cultural day for Indigenous nations.

National Indigenous Peoples Day was first announced in 1996 by then-governor general Roméo LeBlanc. At the time, it was called National Aboriginal Day, but the federal government moved to rename the day in 2017.


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