Celebrate National Indigenous People’s Day from your home

Story by Stacie Gaetz

National Indigenous People’s Day (June 21) is recognized as a day to celebrate and acknowledge the culture’s heritage and customs.

Shannon Sunshine is Indigenous Anishinaabe from Fishing Lake First Nation and she has lived in Airdrie for 12 years.

In past years, Sunshine’s job as a flight attendant has allowed her to take part in celebrations in cities throughout Canada including Ottawa, Vancouver and Toronto.

This year, she will partake in a smudging ceremony to honour loved ones who have passed, including her dad.

“Although the pandemic has many venues and planned celebrations cancelled, it is possible to celebrate and acknowledge this day at home,” says Sunshine.

“It can be a day to teach family and friends our history and customs.”

She gave examples of playing Indigenous music, which include many different songs such as honour songs, healing songs and songs that have spiritual or social meaning.

“Even though we may not understand the context of the song, our culture teaches that playing pow wow music can be powerful and uplifting as you listen to the beat of the drum,” she adds.

She said making a traditional Indigenous bread called bannock is another way people can celebrate the special occasion. The bread can be baked or fried and is particularly delicious when topped with butter, jam or lightly sprinkled with cinnamon.

Beading is also a long-standing tradition in the culture. There are many YouTube videos that demonstrate how to create beaded work.

Sunshine said her son Sam Lecuyer is learning how to bead from his grandmother.

“What I would like people to know about our Indigenous community, is that we have the ability to laugh and use humour even when faced with adversity,” she says.

“Whether it is a family get together or a business meeting, our people have always used humour and laughter in a social setting, making us a very warm and happy community.”

She adds that it is important to commemorate this day because so many people from different countries are interested in First Nations culture.

“Canadians can share our history and customs with their family and friends from around the world, by understanding our culture and history,” she says.

The Indigenous community within Airdrie comprises of First Nations, Inuit and Metis.

“We are part of the Airdrie community, while maintaining pride in who we are culturally,” she adds.

Lecuyer (Sunshine’s son) is the triple threat actor/model/musician who is featured on the cover of airdrielife magazine’s digital Summer 2020 edition.

Click here and flip to page 80 to read about how the 2019 graduate of École francophone d’Airdrie is looking to be a role model for his First Nations community, and the world at large, as he follows his passions.