Written by Pāora Tangira, Program Facilitator
Tēnā Koutou, Nau Mai Koutou, Kia Ora Tātou Katoa! (A warm and generous welcome, greeting and acknowledgement to all of you reading this post)
Ko Tangata Māori ahau (I am a Māori Person ‘visiting’ here on these Indigenous lands and waters of Vancouver Island)
Ko Tōku Pepeha Tēnei (This is my Pepeha – How Māori traditionally introduce themselves to a new group)
Ko Waipā te Awa (The Waipā is my river)
Ko Pirongia te Maunga Tapu (Pirongia is my sacred mountain)
Ko Pūrekireki te Marae (Pūrekireki is my Marae – where my people’s big house, carvings, arts, histories, stories, ancestors, elders and our Atua [cherished spirit beings] are located)
Ko Tainui te Waka (Tainui is the canoe that carried my people from Hawaiki to Aotearoa over the Pacific Ocean hundreds of years ago)
Ko Ngāti Apakura te Hapū (Ngāti Apakura are my friends, allies, distant relatives, those I go to when I need help)
Ko Ngāti Maniapoto tōku Iwi (Ngāti Maniapoto is my tribe)
Ko Ōtautahi o Te Wai Pounamu tōku wā kāinga (Ōtautahi – commonly known as Christchurch, of the Land of the Green Stone Waters – Commonly known as the South Island, is the place of my birth and my far away home)
**I am of those places and peoples, and they are of me**
Ko Pāora Tīpene Tāngira ā Tāmaki tōku Ingoa (Is my name in full)
Ti Ti Ti, Hei Ha ! (I say these things in the breath and fire of my spirit!)
I am a Program Facilitator here at Power To Be. Over the years I’ve also been a kind of Indigenous Peoples Liaison for our organization to our indigeneity here on Vancouver Island, and across this land of Canada. Coming into community and walking in reconciliation with indigeneity is very important to us at Power To Be, including this time of year.
This is National Indigenous Peoples Month and on June 21st Power To Be, along with many other groups, will be celebrating National Indigenous Peoples Day down at Esquimalt Lagoon. That particular celebration was first initiated by Asma-na-hi Antoine 10 years ago. Power To Be was one of the first, if not, the first, partner with Asma-na-hi to get that celebration going. At that time, we simply suggested, “Hey, we can bring down one of our big canoes and take folks for a ride around the lagoon for fun if that will help?… “. Over the years that fun canoe ride has become multiple canoe challenges and protocols where different groups in their canoes paddle in, present who they are, declare their peaceful intentions, and ask to come ashore. An Elder will respond with a greeting and welcome to those paddlers. It’s a beautiful, historic protocol to behold. And the beauty continues.
The last canoe to be welcomed ashore has indigenous dancers in full regalia. Those dancers lead everybody up from the shore to the main activity grounds. The dancers are supported by drumming and song. The crowd that follows is quite a spectacle: indigenous and non-indigenous peoples, kids and elders, families and Clans, and all kinds of other everyday folk moving together, moving as one, to a marvellous gathering of indigenous expression and culture. You’ll find all kinds of stalls, stage areas for speakers, games and fun stuff for kids, a tour on Charlie’s trail in the forest, and a Teepee to go sit in, hear stories, and rest. After the protocols have been done, and folks have dispersed in the activity areas, then paddlers return to the shore for canoe races. Various groups, clans, families, fill Power To Be’s canoes, and other canoes, and compete in races on the lagoon. All are vying to win the right to hold, and keep, an indigenous paddle carved by a local artist for a year until we compete again next year. It’s the culmination of a great day and month.
I hope that this has been a good month for you, too. And, that as many of you as possible can get out on June 21st to attend this gathering, or the many other gatherings around our city, or the country at large, on that day. We, here, at Power To Be are continuing our journey with our indigeneity with words of affirmation and acts of reconciliation. We would encourage you to do the same in whatever sphere of influence you may be in. In the SENĆOŦEN language of the W̱SÁNEĆ people where I live, I say, “HÍSW̱KE SIÁM“(Deep gratitude) for your endeavours in this way on behalf of Power To Be.
Noho Haumaru Rā e Hoa ma (Good folk, Look after yourselves today)