June 21 National Indigenous Peoples Day Celebrations at Royal Roads

The Lekwungen singers and dancers at NIPD 2019 celebrations.

The co-hosts of National Indigenous Peoples Day 2022 celebrations at Royal Roads University extend a warm invitation for a day of fun and community relations on the Lands of the Lekwungen (Songhees) and Xwsepsum (Esquimalt) ancestors and families.

The event runs from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesday, June 21 at Royal Roads University. Everyone is welcome and admission is free. The National Indigenous Peoples Day celebrations on these Lands are rooted in traditional cultural practices, when waterways were roadways between communities. Families would travel by canoe and wait to be greeted from the shores of the community they were wishing to visit. The canoe landing protocol practice brings this tradition to life as hosts and visitors share, learn and celebrate together.

The day begins at 10 a.m. with the traditional canoe landing protocol practice and welcoming ceremony on the shore of the Esquimalt Lagoon led by Lekwungen Elder Butch Dick, joined by guests and family members from the Lekwungen and Xwsepsum Nations. To follow at 11 a.m. is the Lekwungen celebration song and 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 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 will bring opportunities to gather, play, learn and enjoy tasty food together.

The activities taking place until closing at 3 p.m. include children’s field games and craft tent, a frybread station, vendor’s market and food trucks (food/beverages for purchase), an interactive Métis showcase and storytelling and songs in Tipi. There will be an Elders’ tent and traditional plant walks on Charlie’s Trail along Colwood Creek with Cowichan Elder Kenneth Elliott and Tsawout Elder Earl Claxton Jr.

This annual event has grown over the last nine years thanks to community enthusiasm and the continued support from partners, sponsors and hundreds of volunteers. 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 Songhees NationEsquimalt NationCamosun CollegeFernwood Neighbourhood Resource Group Society (Fernwood NRG), Hulitan Family & Community Services SocietyIndigenous 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 SocietyMétis Nation of Greater VictoriaMinistry of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation, Ocean Spirit Canoe Family, Power To BeEcole Shoreline Community Middle School, Sooke Family Resource SocietySooke School DistrictUVICVancityVictoria Native Friendship Centre and West Shore Parks & Recreation.

See the full schedule of events for National Indigenous Peoples Day at Royal Roads. Join us in person or watch the livestream.