The weather was perfect at The Green in Wortley Village where the 3rd annual Indigenous Solidarity Day was held. Hundreds of people from all over the London area to honour and partake in ceremonies on the summer solstice.
— XFM News (@XFMNews) June 21, 2018
The park hosted organizations from the community like Indigenous Housing Services and The Salvation Army. The London Police and Fire services played lacrosse with community members in front of a tipi before the pow wow ceremony began.
Vendors selling handmade crafts, miniature tipis, paintings and jewelry showcased their pieces at individual stands across the field.
Ria and her husband Jay Bolton were selling traditional tomahawks and fans dressed with real feathers and leather, and intricate jewelry alongside large canvasses of Indigenous inspired artwork.
They became vendors in a very unconventional way.
Jay suffers from cluster headaches, a severe type of migraine that sporadically hits him and can be debilitating. Ria says that although he’s always been an artist, something about creating and crafting helps him through the pain.
“It relaxed him and it was a medicine- a healing property for him.”
They began selling his pieces when it began to take up too much room in their house. It has now allowed for Jay to create more work, and to participate in pow wows and other ceremonies in a different capacity.
Jay is of the Oneida Nation of the Thames, and Ria is of the Cayuga people which belongs to the Six Nations band.
Ria’s mother is from the Netherlands, and her father who is a Cayuga member grew up on the Six Nations reserve.
She says she knows very little about her native ancestry.
“My father grew up to be ashamed of his heritage and of who he was.”
Ria says that learning and educating herself on her father’s history and culture is important to her, and attending ceremonies like the Indigenous Solidarity Day help her through her journey.
Many of the people attending were students who came with their classes. Teenagers to grade 2’s were learning and taking in the culture of their neighbours.
For some students, it’s the culture of their classmates.
Kristin Barnett is a grade 5 and 6 teacher at Delaware Central Public School. Located in the Thames Valley School District, they are neighbours to several Indigenous communities.
Barnett says that the school has students from the Munsee Delaware Nation and the Oneida Nation of the Thames.
She believes it’s important for her and her students to honour and to recognize Solidarity Day.
“At our school we’re working really hard towards reconciliation.
We’re hoping that the children are growing with more understanding of each other and respect. That they will be a kinder generation coming forward.”
The ceremony included a pow wow, and this year local politicians and representatives from the police force, and fire department joined in the traditional dance.