This Father’s Day weekend the ‘Namgis First Nation is hosting the 58th Annual June Sports here in Alert Bay, BC, and this little island is super busy! Okay, it isn’t exactly bumper to bumper traffic, but there is noticeably a lot more visitors and families here for the weekend. There are lots of people walking around in their team jerseys, little kids kicking soccer balls in emulation of their big brothers and sisters, and elders watching from the side lines.
On Thursday night, the event started with the 29th Annual Salmon Prince & 58th Annual Salmon Princess Pageant. The pageant is an opportunity for Kwakwaka’wakw youth between the ages of 12-18 years old to demonstrate their pride and cultural knowledge. The contestants stood together in the Big House, and were each judged on their oral presentation and sharing of a song, dance or legend. And each contestant was given extra points for being able to speak in Kwakwala.
I was raised with such shame around my Indigenous ancestry, and I do not want to pass that shame on to the next generation. I always remind my children to be proud of who they are and where they come from. Even though we are living away from the territory where we come from, we have our own ways of sharing our knowledge with our boys. As a half breed from Saskatchewan, I am honoured to be here raising my children together with these proud Kwakwaka’wakw kids. I am constantly inspired by the youth and children in this community, and on Thursday evening at the pageant I was blown away by the courage of the youth to present themselves in front of hundreds of people in the Big House. Their families and teachers have done well. Oh, and to the young girl who was braiding my hair while I watched the pageant, thank you!