National Aboriginal Day is on June 21 each year. To mark the occasion Indigenous culture is celebrated at Vancouver’s Trout Lake in John Hendry Park.
Note: Up until a couple of years ago, the occasion was known as National Aboriginal Day. Since 2018, however, it is now called National Indigenous Peoples Day.
Trout Lake Indigenous Celebrations
Vancouver is located on the unceded territory of the local Musqueam, Tsleil-Waututh and Squamish First Nations to whom we are thankful for sharing this beautiful region.
National Indigenous Day is a day to celebrate and honour Canada’s First Nations people and their culture.
Events take place across the Lower Mainland, and the entire country. Some are small and others are larger. Vancouver’s biggest and arguably most impressive National Indigenous Day event happens at Trout Lake.
Date and Location
The National Aboriginal Day celebrations at Trout Lake always take place on June 21st, regardless of what day of the week it falls. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, celebrations were cancelled in 2020, but hopefully the event takes place again in 2021.
Trout Lake is a small lake in John Hendry Park which is located at 3300 Victoria Drive just west of South Grandview Highway and Nanaimo Street.
What to Expect
At Trout Lake’s Indigenous Day event expect to see large numbers of local First Nations people (as well as folk from other ethnic backgrounds). Some are dressed in traditional clothing, while most are dressed like every day.
Entertainment at the event usually includes dancing, singing, drumming and other activities celebrating local Indigenous culture. All are welcome.
In 2019, the day began with events in the morning at the Vancouver Friendship Centre which is located at 1607 East Hastings Street. Starting at around 11:00 am there was then a procession to Trout Lake where celebrations continued all afternoon.
The Friendship Walk
The Friendship Walk started at the Vancouver Friendship Centre at around 11 o’clock in the morning in 2019. The procession went east along Hastings Street and then south, mostly along Commercial Drive, to Trout Lake. The procession entered the park at the corner of Victoria Drive and around East 15th.
The Friendship Walk is about 3.5 km long and lasts for just under an hour. Up to as many as a couple of hundred people participate in normal years.
The Trout Lake Event
The festivities at Trout Lake are the day’s main event. At Trout Lake there are vendor stalls and food trucks. There is also a main area set up with rows of chairs and a designated stage area. At the lake itself there are also usually a couple of large First Nations canoes which the public is welcome to go out on the water in.
Schedule of Events
The 2021 schedule has not been released yet so to get an idea of what to expect, below is the schedule of events for National Indigenous Peoples Day at Trout Lake in 2019.
At the Vancouver Friendship Centre (in 2019)
- 9:00 am – Territorial Welcome
- 9:05 am – Opening Remarks and Dignitary Speeches
- 9:50 am – Youth Performance
- 10:00 am – Kwhlii Gibaygum Nisga’a Traditional Dancers
- 10:15 am – The Wild Goose Moccasin Dancers
- 11:00 am – The Friendship Walk sets off for Trout Lake
At Trout Lake (in 2019)
- 12:00 pm – Opening Prayer & Welcome
- 12:15 pm – Squamish Ocean Canoe Family
- 12:40 pm – M’Girl
- 1:05 pm – Orene Askew (aka DJ O Show)
- 1:30 pm – Sandy Scofield
- 1:55 pm – Dylan Rysstad
- 2:25 pm – Wolf & the Raven
- 2:55 pm – Rex Small Boy
- 3:20 pm – Powwow Performance & Madelaine McCallum
- 3:50 pm – Road Engine Dreams
- 4:20 pm – Murray Porter
Tips and Advice
Below are some suggestions and other information to help you make the most out of your experience at the National Indigenous Peoples Day event at Trout Lake.
TIP #1: If you can go, go! It’s an interesting event and a great way to experience and celebrate local Indigenous culture.
TIP #2: Some people join the event at around 11:00 am for the start of the Friendship Walk. The majority of folk though just go straight to John Hendry Park for the event at Trout Lake. Not many people attend the morning activities at the Friendship Centre as it’s not a huge place.
TIP #3: This is a fairly large event, so parking can be a challenge. Arrive early if you want to find a parking spot anywhere near Trout Lake.
TIP #4: The event at John Hendry Park is Vancouver’s largest Aboriginal Day event. There are other similar events on the same day in other places too, however, including most years in Mission, Port Moody, Richmond and Surrey. Other celebrations also happen on the weekend, including, most years, in Langley and Maple Ridge.
For further details about the event at John Hendry Park, click Trout Lake Indigenous Peoples Day Celebrations.
For information about similar festivities in other parts of Metro Vancouver, click National Indigenous Peoples Day in the Lower Mainland.
Other articles that may be of interest include the following:
- Lower Mainland First Nations
- Vancouver History and Culture
- Stanley Park’s Totem Poles
- Festivals & Events Calendar
- Free Events in June and Free Events in July