Metro Vancouver is preparing to celebrate National Aboriginal Day this week with events set to take place across the region.
While the day is acknowledged across Canada, it is not recognized as a statutory holiday within BC, the unceded Coast Salish lands on which the many events are taking place.
According to Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada, National Aboriginal Day “is a day for all Canadians to recognize and celebrate the unique heritage, diverse cultures and outstanding achievements and contributions of First Nations, Inuit and Métis Peoples.”
The largest event scheduled for the day, which coincides with the summer solstice on June 21, is part of a cross-country gathering.
Aboriginal Day Live is an annual, national event series taking place across eight cities this year. Vancouver is the province’s featured city, alongside similar events in Halifax, Winnipeg, Montreal, Yellowknife, Ottawa, Edmonton, and Toronto. Organized by the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network, Aboriginal Day Live will be taking place with live local performances and events, as well as being live-streamed on TV, radio, and online.
The main events taking place in Vancouver this year will be mainly at Trout Lake, with some morning opening events at the Vancouver Aboriginal Friendship Centre Society nearby.
These events include cultural performances, a sacred fire ceremony, storytellers, dancers, and other entertainers. For families, there will be face painting, craft making, and a commemorative photo booth. The event will also feature a free community lunch, and an evening concert headlined by the JUNO award-winning indie band Digging Roots and other recognizable performers in Aboriginal music and television.
There are many other events taking place during National Aboriginal Day as well, across the many cities of the Lower Mainland.
Burnaby will be hosting their second annual celebration at the Burnaby Civic Square from 4:30 p.m.–7 p.m. There will be traditional performances, dancing, storytelling, and children’s events throughout the evening.
In Abbotsford, there will be an event at the Thunderbird Memorial Square from 4 p.m.–7 p.m. This event will feature storytelling, Pow Wow dancing, and Salish weaving.
Surrey will be hosting their own celebration as well from 2 p.m.–8 p.m. at the Bridgeview Community Centre with the Fraser Region Aboriginal Friendship Centre Association. This event will feature singing, dancing, storytelling, activities for kids, traditional sharing and teachings, and traditional food.
In New Westminster, their event will be taking place from 10 a.m.–2:30 p.m. at the Anvil Centre on Columbia Street. This celebration is said to include “unique programming” to celebrate the cultures of Canada’s Aboriginal peoples, including storytelling, drumming, K’uuts’iixuu T’aaxwii traditional dancing, and cultural resource tables.
In Maple Ridge, the day will be celebrated on Saturday, June 24, from 10 a.m.–2 p.m. at Memorial Peace Park. This event is taking place for its eighth year, organized in partnership between the Fraser River All Nations Aboriginal Society and the city. This event will include dancing, live music, free food and a farmers market, games, crafts, and ceremonies.
The cities of Richmond, Fort Langley, and Vancouver chose to hold large community events this past weekend to celebrate National Aboriginal Day as well.