In 2023 the special event took place on June 17th. It was called Welcoming the Sun and admission was free. Performing at the event this past year was the Coastal Wolf Pack. There was also storytelling, a drumming group, weaving workshops, vendors and a film screening.
The exact date for the event in June 2024 is to be confirmed.
Note: National Indigenous Peoples Day is on June 21st every year. In 2023 the Welcoming the Sun celebrations in Richmond took place at Steveston Village on June 17th. On June 21st, however, admission to the Gulf of Georgia Cannery is free for people who identify as Indigenous. Admission revenues from everyone else on June 21st, meanwhile, are donated to the Residential Schools Survivors Campaign.
For details about the Welcoming the Sun event, see the Gulf of Georgia Cannery‘s website.
National Indigenous Peoples Day at the Gulf of Georgia Cannery
Located at Richmond’s Steveston Village at 12138 Fourth Avenue, the Gulf of Georgia Cannery is a museum that showcases local history and the region’s salmon-canning past. The National Historic Site hosts a number of special events each year including Welcoming the Sun: A Celebration of Indigenous Arts and Culture.
In 2023 the First Nations-centered celebration ran on Saturday, June 17th. It featured storytelling, live performances, community vendors, and more. Admission is free for everyone. In 2023 the activities started at noon and continued until 4:00 pm.
What to Expect
There is typically a fair bit going on at the Cannery during National Indigenous Peoples Day (or on June 17th in 2023).
From our experience in past years, you can usually expect to see anywhere between a few dozen and a couple of hundred people at any given time enjoying various First Nations cultural performances. At times when there is dancing, the crowds swell.
In past years there has been a stage outside where storytelling, singing, drumming and dancing take place. Nearby there has also been a small number of information booths from various organizations, like the Port of Vancouver and Parks Canada.
Performances take place on or in front of the outdoor stage at various times in the afternoon. In the past there has been a small number of seats for people to sit on, but most of the audience stands. The drumming, dancing and other events are both fun to watch and culturally educational.
At the event there are also activities and entertainment inside the historic Cannery where, on the day, admission to the museum is free (which is awesome).
Richmond’s Indigenous Peoples Day event is a medium-sized event compared to other similar festivities in other parts of the Lower Mainland. It’s much smaller than the celebrations in Vancouver at Trout Lake or in Surrey at Holland Park. It’s the same size or slightly larger though than those in smaller communities.
Strengths of the Event
A few things make the event at the Gulf of Georgia Cannery stand out. One is the venue. The Cannery is a great museum, and admission on National Indigenous Peoples Day (or the day of the Welcoming the Sun event) is usually free, so it’s an exceptional time to go. Between performances you can explore the historical attraction. (Note: Admission is also free on other days of the year for youth ages 17 and under.)
In years with poor weather, the fact that the event takes place both indoors and outdoors is also a huge advantage compared to similar National Indigenous Peoples Day events in other communities (which in most cases take place primarily just outside).
Another bonus about Richmond’s event is that it takes place in Steveston Village which is a wonderful place to explore. Either before or after your visit to the Cannery, go for a walk along the waterfront. And if it’s a weekend day, go explore the fish market on the docks.
And finally, last but not least, the entertainment at the Indigenous Peoples Day event at the Cannery is excellent. It’s not non-stop. When we’ve been in the past, however, there has been a considerable selection of performances and good variety. Some of the performances might attract a small audience, while with others up to 200 people might gather. It’s all very entertaining, enjoyable and educational. If you get a chance, we recommend you go!
To learn more about the venue and the Indigenous celebration in the summer, see the Gulf of Georgia Cannery‘s website.
For a list of other events at the National Historic Site at other times of the year, see our article about Gulf of Georgia Cannery Events.
To learn about other venues with events celebrating First Nations’ culture on or around June 21st, click National Indigenous People’s Day in Vancouver.
At other times of the year, the Gulf of Georgia Cannery hosts a special Halloween event in October and the Steveston Festival of Trees in December. They also usually have something special at Spring Break and Easter.
Other articles that might be of interest include the following:
- Free June Events
- Vancouver on a Budget
- Best Places for History and Culture
- First Nations in the Lower Mainland
- Stanley Park’s Totem Poles