Saskatchewan communities dive back into Culture Days events

Regina Beach is set to host a Community Round Dance on Friday in honour of National Truth and Reconciliation Day, and organizer Carol GoldenEagle says she cannot wait to see it happen.

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Regina Beach is set to host a Community Round Dance on Friday in honour of National Truth and Reconciliation Day, and organizer Carol GoldenEagle says she cannot wait to see it happen.

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“I love the idea of a round dance because one step at a time, we are moving together towards reconciliation and that’s what you do when you’re round-dancing, you’re stepping,” GoldenEagle said in a recent interview.

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Organized by the Last Mountain Lake Cultural Centre, the round dance is one of many events planned across Saskatchewan for Sept. 30.

It’s also taking place as part of Culture Days, a national organization that helps plan events across Canada each year to prompt “understanding, appreciation and exploration of arts and culture.”

The three-week celebration began on Sept. 23, and Regina Beach is just one of many communities across Saskatchewan and Canada taking part as it continues through to Oct. 16.

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“In Saskatchewan, with all these diverse cultures as part of our fabric of the landscape, it’s good to just get to know each other,” GoldenEagle said about the event. “The more you know each other, the closer you’re going to be.”

While certainly not the first round dance held in or near Regina Beach, Friday’s event will be bigger than previous events, said GoldenEagle, and it holds a special significance because of the date.

It will feature a full drum group performing for the dancers, and the attendance of dignified guests including Elder Archie Weenie and Lt.-Gov. Russ Mirasty.

It will also offer free food to guests and supplemental activities like an art exhibition and wares from Indigenous artists.

A group of community members are also set to perform with their own hand drums, made during recent workshops held at the Last Mountain Lake Cultural Centre.

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“I said to them, don’t just hang it on your wall,” GoldenEagle said. “Let’s get together and we’ll do our own little segment.”

GoldenEagle said it will be the largest round dance the community has held in decades, although smaller gatherings have taken place.

For many years, she explained, people have travelled to Regina to attend these kinds of events, on this scale. Planning its own round dance has really sparked excitement within the community.

“This is exciting, because the drum is sounding again,” GoldenEagle said. “The whole area around Regina Beach is so culturally and historically significant in terms of Indigenous history that it just makes perfect sense.”

Regina Beach has a largely non-Indigenous population, but GoldenEagle is seeing all corners of the community come together to support the event.

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“Community members are just wanting to show their respect, wanting to learn, to be inclusive and want to get involved,” she said.

Regina, Saskatoon, Moose Jaw, Yorkton and other communities are also holding cultural events on Friday, many sponsored by Sask Culture in the same way as the Last Mountain Lake Cultural Centre round dance.

Events throughout the three weeks branch out into many different cultures, but national organizers made clear that Sept. 30 would host only events to honour National Truth and Reconciliation Day.

It is the second year of the national holiday, declared by the federal government in 2021 to honour the children who were lost and who survived residential schools in Canada, and their families.

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GoldenEagle said that it’s a special nod to the importance of the day’s purpose, and how closely it’s tied to a need for learning, to see reverence on the Culture Days calendar.

“It’s really important that all different cultures get together and open up their doors, so to speak, to celebrate and share what makes us unique and special,” GoldenEagle said.

“It’s a process, to work towards being inclusive, and I think Culture Days is an amazing start.”

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