National Indigenous Peoples Day celebrations are returning to Royal Roads University June 21, promising a day full of activities, cultural traditions, and friendly competition for the entire community.
The day begins with a traditional canoe landing protocol and welcoming ceremony at 10 a.m. on the shore of the Esquimalt Lagoon led by Lekwungen Elder Butch Dick and featuring guests and family members from the Lekwungen and Xwsepsum Nations.
Then at 11 a.m., the Lekwungen celebration song will be performed with an official stage opening by Asma-na-hi Antoine, Toquaht Nation director Indigenous engagement, singers and dancers, and followed by stage performances throughout the day.
The Swutth’tus (Max Henry Sr.) Canoe Challenge, also starting 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 safely.
Activities on the grounds taking place until closing at 3 p.m., will bring opportunities to gather, play, learn and enjoy tasty food together, and include children’s field games and craft tent, a frybread station, vendors market and food trucks, an interactive Métis showcase and storytelling and songs in Tipi. There will also be an Elders’ tent and traditional plant walks on Charlie’s Trail along Colwood Creek with Cowichan Elder Kenneth Elliott.
“The annual event has grown over the last nine years thanks to community enthusiasm and the continued support from partners, sponsors and hundreds of volunteers,” read a news release. “This year’s theme is ‘Reconnecting Community and Celebrating Together,’ and came to be as a welcome return after pandemic disruptions to traditional gathering on National Indigenous Peoples Day, which last took place here in 2019.”
With limited parking available, the university encourages the public to take public transit, walk or cycle to Royal Roads along the Galloping Goose Regional Trail. There will be on-campus transportation between event locations available for elders and guests who need assistance.
The event is co-hosted by Esquimalt Nation, Songhees Nation, Camosun College, Fernwood Neighbourhood House (Fernwood NRG), Hulitan Family & Community Services Society, Indigenous Perspectives Society Centre of Excellence in Community Education (IPS), Island Métis Family & Community Services Society, Indigenous Sport, Physical Activity & 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 Centre and West Shore Parks & Recreation.
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