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Aboriginal Day sees pole blessing, bannock and First Nations regalia

Welcome pole to be carved by Squamish, Lil'wat artists

A blessing of Whistler's new First Nations welcome pole will kick off the festivities for next week's National Aboriginal Day.

On Tuesday June 21 the celebrations begin at 10 a.m. at Whistler Olympic Plaza with a traditional pole blessing. Called the Olympic Lightning Figure, the new welcome pole will be blessed in a ceremony by Squamish and Lil'wat community members and Whistler Mayor Ken Melamed. The carving was created to honour the Olympic legacy, the families of the area and the legend of lightning snakes, depicted in the pole carving design.

Squamish Nation master carver Ray Natraoro (Sesiysm) and Lil'wat Nation carver Delmar Williams (Bankscht) created the welcome pole.

Following the blessing, which all are welcome to attend, there will be an aboriginal art show at the Squamish Lil'wat Cultural Centre. Some of the leading artist in the region will be carving, weaving and painting with performances starting at noon. There will be a regalia fashion show highlighting regalia created for the 2010 Games. The two Nations will also show visitors how salmon was traditionally smoked over hot coals, how to bake bannock on a stick and taste Xuseum, a traditional soap-berry soda. Grilled salmon burgers and bison sausage will also be on the café menu. Admission to the exhibit and gallery will be by donation throughout the day.