By Matt Law
Kwantlen’s Aboriginal Club held a salmon barbeque Sept. 21 to recognize Aboriginal students and the relationship the University has with the Kwantlen First Nations.
Kwantlen students got a taste of First Nations food, music and culture last week at the Aboriginal Students Club salmon barbeque held at the university’s Surrey campus.
Hundreds of students lined up to try traditional bannock, rice and barbecued salmon. The Kwantlen First Nations donated 15 salmon, a mix of spring and sockeye, to the event. The goal of the barbecue: to raise awareness of First Nations culture.
“Basically that’s what it was for, to make awareness to the other students who travel from other countries that might not know about the First Nations teachings,” said Lekeyten, a First Nations elder who opened the event with a speech and a traditional song, but not before ensuring the other elders had arrived. He stressed the importance of elders in First Nations culture and their role as teachers.
“They’re our book of knowledge. We lose an elder, we lose sometimes four generations of knowledge in one person, it’s sad so we’ve got to find a way to make sure they always bring it out, let them speak,” he said.
For Melinda Bige, an organizer of the event and Aboriginal liaison at Kwantlen, the barbecue was about giving First Nations culture a presence on campus.
“The purpose of this was to bring the campus culture, as well as to let people know that we are here and that we identify and that we’re everywhere,” said Bige. “The Aboriginal students decided that enough is enough and that we needed to bring some campus culture and we did and it turned out really well.”
Also in attendance was Chief Rock, a First Nations hip hop artist who performed a mix of traditional First Nations music and rap, which is heavily influenced by the problems affecting First Nations.
The event had been in the works for the past year and Bige was thrilled with the attendance of both students and local First Nations elders.
“We invited them out to come and attend, which is amazing, and then Lekeyten, the elder from Kwantlen First Nations came out and was able to present, so it’s pretty incredible,” she said.
While the event was a success for the day, Bige says she hopes people will be inspired to find out more about First Nations and their history.
“I encourage people to look up residential schools, the history of the First Nations and the culture and see how much of a loss of culture there actually is,” said Bige.
Lisa Monchalin, one of Kwantlen’s newest professors, who is also a mix of Algonquin, Metis and Huron Nations hopes to have more events on campus and plans to create an Aboriginal drum group and host drum making workshops for students.
About the Author: Matt Law is a freelance journalist based in Vancouver, B.C. He is currently finishing a degree in journalism and serving a second term as media editor at The Runner.
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