It was a busy Saturday for Kwantlen First Nation’s Brandon Gabriel, one of the co-organizers of the inaugural Kwantlen First Nation Salmon and Cranberry Harvest Celebration, which took place on Oct. 1 at Langley’s McMillan Island Park.
The event started at 10 a.m., but for Gabriel, the day started much earlier. He had to coordinate with 18 vendors, 10 Indigenous dancers, six drummers, 20 volunteers, and multiple sponsors and greet many more.
Through the harvest celebration centered around salmon and berries, Gabriel’s team raised funds for scholarships for Indigenous students in the Langley area.
The celebration, which took place the day after the second National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, saw support from non-Indigenous community members as they cheered for dancers and drummers.
One of the big features of the day was the barbecued salmon and cranberry-infused bannock, for which people were seen lining up. Proceeds from the food sales, and donations will go towards the scholarship project Kwantlen First Nation has created for local students. In addition, vendors contributed 15 per cent of their sales towards the cause.
Talking about the role cranberries have played for Indigenous communities, Gabriel said, “our people have always used [cranberries] for food and medicinal purposes.”
“We dry them, and use them as food staples throughout the winter month.” Salmon, too was a “predominant” form of trade amongst Indigenous people, he said.
The idea behind the festival was to put the two ‘important” food items together, which is how the Salmon and Cranberry Festival was created. With multiple sponsors like Langley School District, Maple Ridge School District, City of Mission, Kwantlen Polytechnic University, Langley Rotary Club, and some local businesses on board, Gabriel is hoping to expand the festival in the coming years.
“The list [of sponsors] is growing. We anticipate that this event is going to grow into something big.”
Jasmine Marjanovic of Cranberries Naturally has been part of the local business community for more than 23 years. She was one of the sponsors of the event.
“I just want to enjoy, meet and greet people, eat bannock, and have some salmon,” she commented.
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