Indigenous Cultural Event at the Cannery

Richmond celebrates National Indigenous Peoples Day at the Gulf of Georgia Cannery National Historic Site with First Nations performances in June.

In 2019 the event was free and featured music, dancing, storytelling, art and other family-friendly activities showcasing Indigenous culture. The 2020 version was held entirely online.

On June 21st, 2021, admission to the Gulf of Georgia Cannery was free to people of First Nations, Inuit and Metis decent. Funds collected through admission fees by paying guests on the day were also donated to a couple of charities including the Indian Residential School Survivors Society.

 

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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 the Welcoming the Sun: A Celebration of Indigenous Arts and Culture event.

In 2019 the event took place on Saturday, June 22nd. 2020’s event would have happened on the Saturday or Sunday of June 20th or 21st (but in the end it was cancelled due to the coronavirus). In 2021 there wasn’t an event, again because of COVID-19. There was, however, an Indigenous artist on site doing wood-burning art demonstrations.

In years without pandemics, the First Nations-themed event is an annual affair on or around June 21st with both indoor and outdoor activities.

Performers at the event in 2019 included the Starchild Drumming Circle, Eagle Connection Dancers and Coastal Wolf Pack. There was also storytelling with Rebecca Duncan.

In 2019 the celebrations started at noon and continued until 4:00 pm. In addition to the above performances, there was also an art mural that attendees could help paint under the direction of First Nation artist Christine Mackenzie. 2022 details will likely be similar.

 

Cannery on Indigenous Peoples Day
Inside the Cannery on Indigenous Peoples Day

 

What to Expect

In 2020 and 2021 things were different. In years without pandemics, there is a fair bit going on at the Cannery during National Indigenous Peoples Day.

On or around June 21st 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 get bigger.

There is a stage outside where storytelling, singing, drumming and dancing take place. Nearby there are also a small number of information booths from various organizations, like the Richmond Public Library, Port of Vancouver and Parks Canada.

Performances take place on or in front of the outdoor stage at various times of the day. There are 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.

There are also usually activities and entertainment inside the historic Cannery where, on the day, admission to the museum is usually free (which is awesome). In 2019 there was a large salmon-themed mural for visitors to help paint, plus drumming and dancing at various times.

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.

 

Indigenous Mural at Gulf Cannery
The completed salmon-themed mural

 

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 is usually free, so it’s an exceptional time to go! Between performances you can explore the historical attraction.

On days with poor weather (which isn’t uncommon in June), the fact that the event takes place both indoors and outdoors is also a huge advantage compared to similar 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 water. 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, but there’s a considerable selection of performances and good variety. Some of the performances might attract a small audience, while with others up to a couple of hundred people might gather. It’s all very entertaining, enjoyable and educational. If you get a chance, we recommend you go!

 

Indigenous Dancing at the Gulf of Georgia Cannery
Eagle Connection Dancers Outside the Cannery

 

Other Information

To learn more about the venue and the Indigenous-themed event 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 Aboriginal Day in Vancouver.

For ideas about other things to do near the Gulf of Georgia Cannery, check out our articles about Richmond and Steveston Village.

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