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Dozens of people join hands and form circles around drummers in the middle.

A round dance took place on the Bannatyne campus to celebrate National Indigenous Peoples Day.

Rady Faculty celebrates National Indigenous Peoples Day with round dance

June 25, 2024 — 

Drumming and singing filled the air of Brodie Centre atrium on June 21 as dozens of people joined hands in a round dance to celebrate National Indigenous Peoples Day.

The round dance participants included Rady Faculty of Health Sciences faculty, staff and learners and was part of a celebration organized by Ongomiizwin – Indigenous Institute of Health and Healing.

The day’s events began with the lighting of a Sacred Fire in Mashkiki Gitigann – Medicine Garden and was followed by a pipe ceremony. Approximately 50 people gathered in the Medicine Garden to learn about the ceremony led by Ongomiizwin Elders.

Five people sit in chairs and face an audience. One of them speaks into a microphone.

Elder Margaret Lavallee speaks to the audience gathered in Mashkiki Gitigann – Medicine Garden.

Elder Margaret Lavallee said they wanted to bring the Rady Faculty community together to help understand each other’s cultures.

“It’s exciting. I really appreciate the people that are interested in this sacred ground right here,” Lavallee said. “I think it’s important we have that so that we can share our teachings as time goes on.”

Later that morning, Debra Beach Ducharme, director of Indigenous health integration at Ongomiizwin – Education, opened the portion of the celebration that took place in Brodie Centre atrium.

“This day is special, and it is important to honour and recognize First Nations, Inuit and Métis people and their contributions to learning, research, programming and everything that goes on at the University of Manitoba and all over Turtle Island,” Beach Ducharme said.

Melanie MacKinnon, executive director of Ongomiizwin – Indigenous Institute of Health and Healing, introduced George Muswaggon, Ongomiizwin’s new and first full-time Knowledge Keeper.

“I’m really, really grateful for you – that you trust us to honour us with your work, with your expertise, with your gifts,” MacKinnon said.

Four people join hands and face four drummers who are singing.

The round dance participants included Rady Faculty of Health Sciences faculty, staff and learners.

Muswaggon told the audience that when someone takes part in a ceremony or when they do the round dance there are no absolutes.

“I got asked this question the other day, ‘What if you do this wrong?’” Muswaggon said. “Well, the only time it’s wrong is if you do it purposefully – not the way you’re supposed to – otherwise, when you participate, there is no wrong way to participate. You enrich that experience, and you enrich your experience.”

Elder Charlotte Nolin introduced a recording of the Métis National Anthem. Following the anthem, she told the audience to enjoy the day and each other’s company.

“Enjoy the love that is here and know that you are one race – the human race,” Nolin said.

Before the round dance began, Darryl Buck, a drummer and singer, spoke about the round dance and said that it brings Indigenous people together in a good way.

“This is a time where we can come and make new friends, and strengthen the relationships that we already have,” Buck said.

As part of the celebration, an honouring ceremony took place and Nolin was presented with a wall hanging.

Following the round dance, participants enjoyed a feast catered by Shelly’s Indigenous Bistro. Vendors were also set up to sell their hand-made products.

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