Alberta Innovates-Tech Futures was the site of an Aboriginal Day ceremony on June 20, organized by the Aboriginal Environmental Services Network (AESN).

Alberta Innovates-Tech Futures staff and members of various Alberta communities enjoyed the great weather while gathered round for stories and entertainment—and got in the action themselves with some crowd-participation activities.

National Aboriginal Day is a day for all Canadians to recognize and celebrate the unique heritage, diverse cultures and outstanding contributions of First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples.

Alberta Innovates-Tech Futures Aboriginal Relations Business Partner Carter Yellowbird opened the celebration with introductions. Carter and researcher Shauna-Lee Chai are instrumental figures at the head of the Aboriginal Environmental Services Network (AESN) program, which fulfills the needs of industry, government, and Alberta communities by training Aboriginal land stewards to conduct environmental monitoring.

Bruce Cutknife, elder and historian from Samson Cree Nation south of Edmonton, explained the impact of Canada’s Treaty system on Aboriginal communities—the people who live there, their cultural practices, and what it means for the 21st century. The Samson Cree are a party to Treaty 6.

Treffey Deerfoot, elder from Siksika Nation east of Calgary, shared his experience of growing up as an Aboriginal under Treaty 7, serving in Canada’s military, and then rediscovering his passion for tradition and eventual work as a cultural representative for Travel Alberta.

Watch the highlights: