Canada celebrates its indigenous peoples

Canoes come ashore at Royal Roads University on Vancouver Island, British Columbia, on June 21, 2019, in ceremonies honoring Indigenous Peoples Day in Canada. Photo by Margaret Bauman/for The Cordova Times

VICTORIA, British Columbia — Thousands of people turned out across Canada on June 21 to honor the heritage of the nation’s aboriginal peoples, including a gathering at Royal Roads University on Vancouver Island with a traditional canoe landing drumming, singing and dancing.

The nationwide celebration, formerly called National Aboriginal Day, is held annually to celebrate the heritage, culture and achievements of Canada’s First Nations, Inuit and Metis peoples. At Royal Roads University, on the traditional lands of the Lekwungen (Songhees) and Xwsepsum (Esquimalt) people, the canoe landing protocol and welcoming ceremony this year included 17 canoes, with a spokesperson for each canoe stating where they are from and seeking permission to come ashore.

Children of the Lekwugen and Xwsepsum people were invited by tribal elders to come to the shore to greet canoe paddlers participating in ceremonies honoring Indigenous Peoples Day in Canada on Vancouver Island. Photo by Margaret Bauman/for The Cordova Times

The nationwide celebration, formerly called National Aboriginal Day, is held annually to celebrate the heritage, culture and achievements of Canada’s First Nations, Inuit and Metis peoples. At Royal Roads University, on the traditional lands of the Lekwungen (Songhees) and Xwsepsum (Esquimalt) people, the canoe landing protocol and welcoming ceremony this year included 17 canoes, with a spokesperson for each canoe stating where they are from and seeking permission to come ashore.

Drummers sang traditional songs as they greeted canoe paddlers participating in Indigenous Peoples Day at Royal Roads University on British Columbia’s Vancouver Island June 21, 2019. Photo by Margaret Bauman/for The Cordova Times

Victoria News, the newspaper for the capital city of British Columbia, noted that B.C. Premier John Horgan was among the canoe paddlers.

“It’s a great day in June to remind ourselves of how fortunate we are to live here on the unceded territory of Indigenous people,” he told the newspaper.

Groups of school children, including some who came on ferry boats from Vancouver, watched the ceremonial arrival of the canoes and later participated in field games. There were also indigenous foods, craft workshops and a number of vendorsRoyal Roads University, on one of Canada’s National Historic Sites, began as a military collage for 55 years, and for more than 20 years now has served as a public applied research university, with a focus on environmental leadership.

Dancers celebrate Indigenous Peoples Day on British Columbia’s Vancouver Island June 21, 2019, where thousands gathered to honor the heritage, culture and achievements of Canada’s aboriginal peoples. Photo by Margaret Bauman/for The Cordova Times