Peter Skene Ogden Secondary celebrated its annual Indigeneity Day last week with song, dance, and speeches from a variety of local First Nations performers.
PSO staff member Amber Christopher, one of the organizers, said it’s important to showcase First Nations artists because “it brings a lot of the culture back into the community and especially with the students because they are our future generation. And I really tried to include a lot of the local First Nations like the Shuswap, the Metis, the Chilcotin, and the Carrier.”
Most of the students and teachers watched the event virtually from their classrooms while a few were able to see it in the cafeteria. The day featured storytellers and speakers such as Ryan Christopher, a transition coordinator, as well as work from artist Vance Theoret. There were also performers including local Indigenous dancer Terrance Archie.
Hip-hop duo Rich n Beka – Richard MacDonald and Rebecca Solomon – also performed five songs from their recently released album, Let the Games Begin, including Roll up on Em and Go For the Wind. The duo also shared what Indigeneity Day meant to them.
“It represents our culture and teaches other people what kind of life we’ve been through and what kind of struggle we’ve been through because it’s very unrecognized,” MacDonald said. “And I think that it’s another way for us to show our talents and stuff like that. Show other people that we have different ways of communication, different ways of expressing ourselves I guess.”
Solomon added, “I can almost imagine what it was like at the original time where, you know like, at the Aboriginal people and the British settlers came, and I think we were really welcoming; like we basically showed them around, but I think the main part is that it’s almost a reminder to be welcoming and teach other peoples each other’s cultures and connect.”
PSO students said they enjoyed Indigenous Day, while getting a new appreciation of the art of the First Nations culture and what the day means.
“It’s important that we celebrate it. It’s important that we recognize stuff like that,” Grade 12 student, Jill McArthur said.
Student Junaya Nielsen added she found the dancers “very interesting. That’s probably my favourite part of the whole thing.”
Amber Christopher said she hoped the speakers, like Ryan Christopher, who works at TRU as a transitions coordinator, would provide students with knowledge. “I thought it would be amazing if he showed up because he does a lot of speeches for TRU students that are wanting to attend Thompson Rivers University,” she said. “He’s very motivational. He’ll help you out when he can. I really wanted to get people that would contribute to helping build the student’s culture.”
Rich n Beka, who spoke to people after their performance, offered advice for students who wanted to get into music. MacDonald said he’d gotten into music when he was young and was inspired by his uncle and music videos.
“It’s something that I’ve learned and really appreciated whereas before I was unappreciative of how it made me feel and different things; it really revitalized my mind, brings me back to myself,” he said. “It helps me express myself so that’s the reason why I like it so much.”
Solomon also got into music when she was young as a form of therapy. “I had a really traumatic childhood and it started out as poetry so it just became a way to speak to my siblings or my parents because I didn’t know how to like talk or whatever,” she said. So that’s why I started writing so they’d know how I feel. It’s a therapy and a freedom of expression and definitely a challenge when it comes to performing onstage I still get nervous on stage. It’s a challenge and I like to overcome challenges since I can.”
Lauren Keller is a Grade 12 PSO student who is writing articles for the Free Press as part of her Capstone project.