Frankie Robbins’ sister Annie asked him to come up to Valemount’s celebrations this year. Robbins, a dancer, drummer, and crafter, among other things, encourages young people to learn about their traditional ways. /LAURA KEIL

By Abigail Popple, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, RMG

Valemount residents gathered in Centennial Park last Friday to celebrate National Indigenous Peoples Day, held every year on June 21st. Organized by the Robson Valley Community Services (RVCS) Indigenous Literacy program, the event aimed to celebrate and highlight Indigenous culture.

Organized by Leona Mintz and Julie Williams, who work for the Indigenous Literacy program, the event aimed to celebrate and highlight Indigenous culture. It included drummer and dancer Frankie Robbins, food donated by Creekside Outreach, and tables with crafts and instruments.

“We wanted to come out and bring awareness to the town and celebrate,” said Mintz. “We wanted everybody to join in.”

While the Indigenous Literacy Program can help connect anyone with educational services, it is specifically geared to aid Indigenous people in their educational journey – whether that’s help with coursework, or connecting with people who share their cultural background, Mintz and Williams said. The program also puts on events once a month to educate Robson Valley residents on Indigenous culture.

“We do a broad spectrum: crafting, knowledge-based (workshops), everything,” Mintz said. “We just try and bring it back to Valemount, to let everybody know that we’re here and we’re proud.”

These events are very popular, Mintz added: often, registration for classes fills up within one or two days, so RVCS will run the same workshop more than once so everyone has a chance to participate.

Dancer Frankie Robbins also appreciates sharing Indigenous culture. He dances and drums at powwows and visits schools throughout the province, educating students on Indigenous crafts and dance.

“I go to a lot of schools to explain culture and traditional protocols,” he told The Goat. “The young ones want to learn, and I’m always willing to help kids who want to learn.”