by Jake Cardinal, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
(ANNews) – In the wake of the COVID health restrictions being completely lifted in Alberta, many events have been approved for the summer.
Alberta Premier Jason Kenney even attended the first major event to be held by the 2021 Calgary Stampede: the pancake breakfast. He believes that the province is now “open for good.”
“I am proud that Alberta is leading Canada out of the pandemic, and leading Canada in economic growth,” he said.
Another event that happened after restrictions were lifted was the Cold Lake First Nations’ (CLFN) Treaty Days — the first Indigenous gathering I attended for almost two years.
The COVID-19 pandemic and ensuing restrictions made me forget what a cultural gathering felt like — or any sort of gathering for that matter.
And while the amount of people at the Treaty Day gathering felt thin compared to my pre-COVID memories, it was great to see so many Indigenous faces in person.
Many activities and events were planned for the day, such as: a grand opening, a canoe tug-of-war, a crib tournament, a triathlon, a feast, a musical performance, and fireworks.
There was also a virtual talent show that happened alongside the celebrations.
“This year’s Treaty Days has been a challenge (to say the least),” said Cold Lake First Nations in their monthly newsletter. “Rapidly changing restrictions, a lingering pandemic, and low vaccination rate concerns have all been taken into consideration.
“The organizers have all worked diligently to provide a safe, fun and exciting event for all of Cold Lake First Nations.”
Before the Treaty Day gathering was even announced, the CLFN deliberated and considered the possibility of the event.
It was then taken to the Elders of the Nation where it was given approval.
CLFN Councillor Kelsey Jacko, said the Treaty Days were “a long time coming. People are going to get together and visit and enjoy the time.”
Jacko stressed that while the event was going to be COVID-safe, those who attended did so at their own risk as COVID safety practicing was encouraged, but not mandatory with many people not wearing masks.
“The coronavirus is still out there so social distance [and] sanitize when you can,” said the councillor. “I’m looking forward to seeing all my relatives, and guests, and children all coming to visit.”
Unfortunately, while many of the planned events did take place, there was a tornado warning towards the evening in the Lac La Biche area — which then expanded to include Cold Lake.
Thus right before the musical performance, Alex Kusturok, was set to take place and about an hour after the warning, a huge storm swallowed the English Bay and the grounds in a matter minutes.
Everything was then cancelled.
At that point my family and I had packed up our day camp and we took off — as did many of the other event goers.
But despite the disappointing ending, the CLFN treaty day event was a wonderful experience for all who attended and I look forward to returning to the powwow trail.