National Indigenous Peoples Day celebrations return to Royal Roads University on June 21, promising a day full of activities, cultural traditions and friendly competition for the entire community.
The day begins with a traditional canoe disembarkation protocol and welcoming ceremony at 10 a.m. on the shores of Esquimalt Lagoon led by Elder Lekwungen Butch Dick and featuring guests and family members of the Lekwungen and Xwsepsum nations.
Then at 11 a.m., Lekwungen’s celebratory song will be performed with an official opening of the stage by Asma-na-hi Antoine, Director of Indigenous Engagement for the Toquaht Nation, singers and dancers, and followed by performances on scene throughout the day.
The Swutth’tus (Max Henry Sr.) Canoe Challenge, also beginning at 11 a.m., will test the skills of 15 partner teams, taking turns using eight canoes to navigate tight turns and return to shore in completely safe.
Field activities that will run until closing at 3 p.m. will provide opportunities to gather, play, learn and enjoy tasty food together, and will include outdoor games and a craft tent for children, a fried bread station, a market of vendors and food trucks, an interactive Métis showcase and stories and songs in Tipi. There will also be an elders tent and traditional plant walks on the Charlie Trail along Colwood Creek with Cowichan Elder Kenneth Elliott.
“The annual event has grown over the past nine years thanks to the enthusiasm of the community and the continued support of partners, sponsors and hundreds of volunteers,” reads a press release. “This year’s theme is ‘Reconnecting Community and Celebrating Together’ and has become a welcome return following pandemic disruptions to the traditional gathering on National Indigenous Peoples Day, which was last held here in 2019.”
With limited parking spaces available, the university encourages the public to use public transport, walk or cycle to Royal Roads along the Galloping Goose Regional Trail. There will be on-campus transportation between event locations available for seniors and guests who require assistance.
The event is co-hosted by Esquimalt Nation, Songhees Nation, Camosun College, Fernwood Neighborhood House (Fernwood NRG), Hulitan Family & Community Services Society, Indigenous Community Education Center of Excellence (IPS) Perspectives Society, Island Métis Family & Community Services Society, Indigenous Sport, Physical Activity and Recreation Council (I-SPARC), M’akola Housing Society, Métis Nation of Greater Victoria, Ministry of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation, Ocean Spirit Canoe Family, Power to Be, Royal Roads University, Shoreline Community Middle School, Sooke Family Resource Society, Sooke School District, University of Victoria, Vancity Credit Union, Victoria Native Friendship Center and West Shore Parks & Recreation.
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