Marten Falls First Nation recognized Canada’s 150th anniversary of confederation with a celebration on July 1, 2017. Band members feasted on foods harvested from the land and participated in games and activities at the pow-wow grounds, capped off with a dance at the school gym and a fireworks display by the river.
Children ran and played games and parents and elders enjoyed the day talking with other members of the community. “It’s good to be out here for Canada Day night,” said Brenda Baxter.
Simeon Wesley, 13, enjoyed the festivities. “They were fun. There was lots of games and food and all that. Swimming race and canoe race. It was good fun stuff. It was a cool day,” Wesley said of the event. “I only played the three-legged race and the Jell-O eating contest. And I won a lawn chair.”
America Baxter, 15, hung out with friends at the event, “When I first arrived it was very loud. It’s lively. We got a bunch of kids running around.”
“I hope they have more dances after,” Baxter said just before the closing of the Canada Day dance.
The firework show began shortly after 11pm. The exhibition fascinated many of the younger viewers as each firework detonated over the Albany River. “I enjoyed watching the fireworks,” Coaster said of the display. “A lot of people came out. I heard some kids crying. They must’ve been scared of the sounds.”
Not every community member was in favour of the Canada Day celebration, Paul Achneepineskum, a band councillor in Marten Falls, said when he was a young man in the 1960s they never celebrated Canada Day. He said that
celebrating Canada’s independence was introduced to the community by missionaries.
Achneepineskum said he does not know what he is supposed to be celebrating. To him, Canada Day only means violations of the 1905 treaty agreement signed with the government.