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National Aboriginal Day celebrated locally

Mohawk performer Jeff Doreen sang Beatle songs in Mohawk at this year's National Aboriginal Day in Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory. [1]

Mohawk performer Jeff Doreen sang Beatles songs in Mohawk at this year’s National Aboriginal Day in Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory. Photo by Candice-Rose Gagnon.

By Candice-Rose Gagnon

TYENDINAGA MOHAWK TERRITORY – “Every day is Aboriginal Day,” says Bubs Maracle. “It’s a good day to be native.”

Maracle was one of many Mohawk elders attending the day-long Aboriginal Day eventat Tsi Tkeritoten Park on Saturday.

Song and Mohawk language filled the air under the tall trees. About 100 people of all walks of life came to take part in the national day of celebration for indigenous people.

The beautiful weather helped, Maracle added. With clear blue skies and a nice cool breeze off the water, people remarked about how perfect the day was.

“It’s a beautiful day to enjoy outside,” said Pat Lahey of Belleville, who was one of many non-aboriginal visitors.

A parade from Deseronto to the park kicked off the event. Members of the Tsi Tyonnheht Onkwawenna Language and Culture Centre, a Mohawk immersion school, sang Mohawk songs, while others walked with Mohawk flags.

Live entertainment was enjoyed throughout the morning. Headlining the day was Karonhyawake Jeff Doreen, a Mohawk singer who translates Beatles songs from English to Mohawk.

“John Lennon songs reflect Mohawk values,” he told the crowd gathered at the centre stage.

Bingo games and a picnic lunch were also provided.

Maracle attended the day’s events and participated in the canoe race around Forester Island.

The Tsi Tyonnheht Onkwawenna centre began hosting National Aboriginal Day in 2005.