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Indigenous dancers leading Newmarket's Santa Claus parade marks milestone moment

This year's parade, on Nov. 18, will mark the first time Newmarket's Santa Claus parade has formally included an Indigenous entry
Nov. 16, 2023
Lisa Queen

Marking a milestone for Newmarket’s Santa Claus parade, Indigenous dancers will lead this year’s procession.

Anishinaabe cultural consultant and motivational public speaker, Kim Wheatley, who has led several Truth and Reconciliation events and sessions in Newmarket, will be joined by friends and community members from various Indigenous nations across the province who will dance various styles at the Nov. 18 event.

This the first time Newmarket’s Santa parade has included a formal Indigenous entry, Mayor John Taylor said.

Wheatley is looking forward to being part of the event.

“I am thrilled to participate in Newmarket’ parade this year for the first time with friends and family, highlighting our continued cultural presence and identities as sovereign nations in this country,” she said.

“Our dancing is a form of medicine helping those around us to join in our healing journey as we walk the road of reconciliation. It is important for me to acknowledge that the over 150 (years) of cultural genocide was not successful. We still remember our teachings, ceremonies, dances and identities. We have taken on the role of educating and inviting our treaty partners (all Canadians) to grasp that hand of friendship we have been extending for over 500 years.”

Newmarket resident, Nancy Fish, who is Metis, said when she saw Wheatley’s Facebook page last year of the dancers participating in Toronto’s Santa Claus parade, she thought it would be great to have the friends and community members participate in Newmarket’s procession.

“The town and the parade committee (have) been very helpful in helping me organize this,” said Fish, adding having the Indigenous dancers participate in the parade is hopefully the “beginning of a wonderful tradition.”

Taylor is also excited about having the Indigenous dancers take part.

“I was pleased to hear Indigenous dancers will participate in our Santa Claus parade,” he said.

“I think many people will get to see Indigenous dancers in their full regalia for the first time. We welcome so many different participants and floats each year and this important addition will make the parade even better!”

The parade runs Nov. 18 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. along Main and Eagle streets. Don’t forget your letters to Santa, which will be collected by Canada Post employees, and a donation to the Newmarket Food Pantry.

You can also grab a free hot chocolate at the Postmark Hotel at 180 Main St. S.