Vern Millward carves a decorative First Nations mask at the 2011 National Aboriginal Day in Hope. This year's event takes place on Saturday.

Celebrating aboriginal heritage in Hope

Festival on June 23 will showcase traditional art, food and entertainment

Trails Crossing Friendship Centre is hosting the third annual National Aboriginal Day this Saturday in Hope Memorial Park.

The event aims to raise awareness about local First Nations cultures and the contributions they make in the community.

“I think it’s going to be fun,” said event organizer Naydeen Spencer. “It’s basically bringing cultures together to celebrate.”

National Aboriginal Day kicks off at 11 a.m. with an opening song by Sacred Connections, a prayer by elder Frank Supernault, and a welcome message from local dignitaries and Chawathil Chief Rhoda Peters.

At 11:30 a.m., Sacred Connections take over the bandshell stage for traditional drumming and singing,  followed by a performance from the Moonshine Mountaineers. There will also be traditional arts and crafts, bannock making, food vendors, storytelling with Harvey Robinson, Ish da Fish childrens entertainment, information booths, carving by local artists, and a visit from the B.C. Elders Gathering king MI:Mel Spath (Roger Andrews) and Queen Yayuts Kiia (Audrey Kelly), who are representing the Shxw’ōw’hámel First Nation.

“It’s important to get involved in everybody’s cultures and understand it and not be afraid of it,” said Spencer. “We’ve got to keep the culture alive and keep it going so people know their roots. We don’t want people to forget where they came from.”

National Aboriginal Day will wrap up at 4:30 p.m. in Memorial Park.