On August 8th, it was my distinct honour to participate in the welcome ceremony and opening of the Oak Bay First Annual Arts and Culture Festival. It was the first cultural canoe welcoming ceremony to take place in Oak Bay in over a century. I was part of the canoe entourage that included paddlers from the Esquimalt and Songhees Nations, a student from Oak Bay High School and local politicians. We paddled from Oak Bay Marina to Willows Beach, where we were greeted upon arrival and invited onto the beach by Chief Ron Sam and Songhees Elders.
This was definitely a highlight of my two years as an MLA and I was profoundly humbled by the significance of the event. It brought home to me the importance of honouring and celebrating our indigenous history. In his remarks, Chief Sam told us it was an emotional day for him and those in attendance were also deeply moved. We were fortunate to bear witness to Elder Joan Morris presenting a blanket to the Acting Mayor of Oak Bay, Kevin Murdoch. The First Nations dance performances were inspiring and, even as the rain came, the crowd was appreciative.
The event kicked off the week-long festival to celebrate our vibrant arts and culture community. Thanks to the organizers as well as Oak Bay Arts Laureate Barbara Adams who did such a wonderful job and I sincerely thank them for inviting me to participate.
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