Hundreds of Kahnawa’kehró:non gathered on the grounds of the Kahnawake Sports Complex this week for a community picnic to celebrate National Indigenous Peoples Day.
Children of all ages enjoyed activities ranging from slip n’ slide sports, to jumping castles, archery, skateboarding, soccer, and an all-star lacrosse game. Whether it was Kahnawake Tourism, Kahnawake Collective Impact (KCI), the Peacekeepers, the Kahnawake Environment Protection Office (KEPO), or Kahnawake Shakotiia’takehnhas Community Services (KSCS), just about every community organization in town was present, providing information about their services, handing out treats, and putting on games for the kids.
Free food was enjoyed by all, with Rezican Tacos, Haunted Dogs, and Walkers Ice Cream vending at the event. Megan Kanerahtenha:wi Whyte facilitated a community mural, allowing Kahnawake youth the opportunity to quite literally make their mark on the community.
“It’s nice to see everybody together,” said Kerry Rice, while enjoying a Rezican Taco. “You see familiar faces, old friends I haven’t seen in a long time, so for me, it’s really nice.
The event was organized by K1037 Radio and the Kanien’kehá:ka Onkwawén:na Raotitióhkwa Language and Cultural Center (KOR). Last year, KOR organized its own event, a block party, unaware of the community picnic, but this year they reached out to K1037 to merge the events.
“It’s just always good to see people coming out and enjoying what we’re here to offer. It’s all free. Nobody has to worry about buying anything,” said Scott Berwick, one of the organizers of the event, who also manages KOR’s photography and archives department.
He and Dennis Stacey of K1037 began planning for the picnic in January. Berwick handled the activities, while Stacey was responsible for bringing all the community organizations together, as well as organizing the food and drinks.
“I’m happy to see that everybody seems to be enjoying themselves,” said Stacey. “It’s the whole point of this, to get the community together, on the first day of summer, on National Indigenous Peoples Day, and just celebrate something together, and I’m glad to see it’s happening.”
Stacey said that last year’s picnic garnered around 1,500 attendees – a number the organizers were aiming to beat this time around.
“I had a great time last year, then now I’m having a better time, because there’s more stuff this year, and more kids, and more stands,” said Faye Norton, who was in attendance. “It’s fabulous! I like it. You sit in the sun, you get free food, the kids play.
“It’s good for the kids, it’s good for us,” she said, adding that the picnic provides an important opportunity for kids to play and socialize post-pandemic.
Norton was at the picnic with her grandchildren, including 11-year-old Haze White.
“I’m enjoying it a lot. It’s very fun,” said White.
When asked what his favourite part of the day had been so far, White answered without hesitation: “the cotton candy.”
This article was originally published in print on Friday, June 23, in issue 32.25 of The Eastern Door.