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National Aboriginal Day a chance to 'show respect'

By Jason Warick, The Starphoenix

National Aboriginal Day is a celebration of First Nations and Metis cultures, but it's also a time for non-aboriginal people to show their gratitude.

"As newcomers, we have a responsibility to show respect," the Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission's chief commissioner David Arnot said Saturday morning.

Speaking at the National Aboriginal Day ceremonies in Friendship Park, Arnot said all Canadians should understand they have both rights and responsibilities.

"We are all treaty people," said Arnot, former head of the Office of the Treaty Commissioner.

Other speakers, including Saskatoon Indian and Metis Friendship Centre chair Brad Bird and Saskatoon Mayor Don Atchison, said the day is also about building bridges between different groups.

Atchison noted the ceremony, which began with a grand entry, drumming and singing, took place just yards from statues of Metis nation builder Gabriel Dumont, Chief Whitecap and Saskatoon founder John Lake.

"Without the aboriginal community, we just wouldn't be here," Atchison said. "It just shows you how fantastic we can be when we work together."

There was another National Aboriginal Day event held at Wanuskewin Heritage Park, featuring a powwow.

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