June 21 marks National Indigenous Peoples’ Day, celebrating the culture and heritage of all Indigenous cultures Canada-wide.
Locally, a celebration at Royal Roads University Sneq’wa e’lun – The Blue Heron House looks to bring people together to learn and celebrate.
From 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. schools and community members of all ages are encourages to take part in canoe challenges, field games and a guided nature walk.
There will also be Indigenous artists, musicians and vendors on hand.
Other events across Vancouver Island include a celebration at Nanaimo’s Maffeo Sutton Park from 5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. and the reveal of an orange heart display at the Nanaimo Vancouver Island University (VIU) campus.
Last year, VIU students helped design 215 orange wooden hearts in memory of the 215 unmarked graves detected by ground-penetrating radar on the site of a former Kamloops residential school.
The display is meant to acknowledge the historical impacts of residential schools and encourage conversation.
The permanent display will be unveiled at 9:00 a.m.
Premier John Horgan, along with Minister of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation Murray Rankin, released a joint statement stating on National Indigenous Peoples Day, B.C. celebrates Indigenous Peoples who have lived on this land for untold generations and will do so for generations to come.
“We lift our hands to the leadership and strength of First Nations, Métis, and Inuit peoples throughout British Columbia. Together, we are making reconciliation a reality, with progress on important work like revenue sharing, education and skills training, culturally safe and accessible health services, affordable housing and language revitalization,” the statement reads.
It continues to say those actions help us right past wrongs and bring us closer to the province we all want to see.
“While much has changed since the first celebration 26 years ago, there is still much work ahead of us. As we celebrate National Indigenous Peoples Day, let us reflect on our history, recognize the healing ahead and act on our shared responsibility to advance reconciliation in B.C.,” it continued.