Previously called National Aboriginal Day, June 21st is National Indigenous Peoples Day and it’s a time for celebrating First Nation’s culture.
The coronavirus pandemic in 2020 prevented all major Indigenous Peoples Day events from taking place in their usual formats. Hopefully the events will be able to run normally in 2021.
Indigenous Peoples Day in the Lower Mainland
Best places to enjoy First Nations dancing, art and festivities in the Lower Mainland in a typical year include at Trout Lake at John Hendry Park, outside the Gulf of Georgia Cannery in Steveston Village, and at various other locations.
Click on any of the following links to jump to event details at a specific location, or continue reading to learn about National Indigenous People’s Day celebrations throughout the Lower Mainland:
National Indigenous Day at Trout Lake
The City of Vancouver’s main National Indigenous People’s Day celebrations usually begin on June 21st each year at the Vancouver Aboriginal Friendship Centre at 1607 East Hastings Street.
The event at the centre is followed later in the morning with a Friendship Walk starting at around 11:00 am from the Friendship Centre to Trout Lake along Commercial Drive. Festivities at John Hendry Park and Trout Lake then continue from around 12:00 pm until the late afternoon most years.
Celebrations at Trout Lake feature First Nations dance performances, canoeing, art displays and cultural learning opportunities.
The June 21st National Indigenous Day celebrations at Trout Lake are free and everyone is welcome. 2021 details are to be confirmed.
Bill Reid Gallery (in Vancouver)
To commemorate National Indigenous Peoples Day, most years the Bill Reid Gallery of Northwest Coast Art in downtown Vancouver is free to the public on June 21st. 2020 was no exception. If you visited the Gallery between 10:00 am and 5:00 pm on June 21st you didn’t have to pay. Hopefully this will be the same in 2021 as well.
There isn’t usually dancing and entertainment like at the Trout Lake event, but with free admission it’s a great time to visit the gallery and see some exceptional Northwest Coast First Nations art.
Click Bill Reid Gallery for more on the Gallery.
Indigenous Peoples Day in Richmond
In 2019 celebratory activities took place outside the Gulf of Georgia Cannery in Steveston Village on Saturday, June 22, from 12 to 4 pm. The event did not take place in 2020, but hopefully it can return in 2021. Exact details, though, are to be confirmed.
In years when it does take place, at the event there is drumming, storytelling, dancing and other family-friendly activities and entertainment. Admission to the historic site is also usually free on the day.
Click National Indigenous Peoples Day in Richmond for more information.
Indigenous Day in Fort Langley
National Indigenous People’s Day activities were going to take place at the historic site of Fort Langley on June 20th in 2020.
If and when it does happen in future years, the event typically runs from 10 am until 5 pm and features many different activities and performances.
Admission rates are about $7.90 for adults and $6.60 for seniors most years. Children under 18 years of age are free.
Click Fort Langley for further details about the site and the event. Regular admission rates apply.
National Indigenous Peoples Day in Maple Ridge
In 2019 Maple Ridge celebrated the day with activities at the Memorial Peace Park on Saturday, June 22nd. From 10 am until 2 pm there was Indigenous dancing, music and other cultural activities, as well as a Bannock cook-off, food vendors, games and crafts. 2020’s event took place online, but hopefully 2021’s event will be able to happen in-person.
Celebrating its 10th anniversary in 2019, the Maple Ridge event was hosted by the Fraser River Indigenous Society. The festivities featured art by local Dene artist Theodore Jackson, Hoop dancing by Jane Wilie, singing by Rea Dawn and drumming by the Community Services Children’s Drum Group.
Memorial Peace Park is located in downtown Maple Ridge at 11900 224th Street by McIntosh Avenue.
Click Aboriginal Day in Maple Ridge for further details.
National Indigenous Day in Mission
2019 National Indigenous Peoples Day celebrations were hosted on June 21st by the Mission Friendship Centre. The event took place in the afternoon at Fraser River Heritage Park at 7494 Mary Street in the form of a concert.
The celebrations were part of the community’s 29th annual Twilight Concert Series which is a weekly summer event presented by Prospera Credit Union.
At the 2019 event on June 21st Stō:lo/St’át’imc rapper and multimedia artist Ostwelve entertained with his acting, community activist, graphic designing, podcasting, rapping and radio hosting skills. Details about who might be performing in 2021, and whether the event happens at all, are to be confirmed.
For further details about the event see the City of Mission‘s website.
Indigenous Peoples Day in Port Moody
In 2019 National Indigenous Peoples Day Celebrations took place in Port Moody on Friday June 21st at Rocky Point Park. Activities ran from 6:00 until 9:00 pm and featured music, a water ceremony involving canoes and kayaks, and a free community feast. Details about the 2021 event are to be confirmed.
At the event in previous years people could watch and participate from land or from the water. For those that wished, folk could register in advance to go in a Takaya Tours canoe (by donation) or rent a double kayak (for about $25). (Note: Spaces were limited.)
The feast at the Port Moody event was by donation in 2019 with the suggested amount being between $0 and $20. It’s not a huge meal, but it’s tasty. In 2019 you got a choice of a small piece of salmon or beef, a little bit of mixed rice with corn, and a tiny pastry for dessert. It was definitely worth getting in line for!
The Port Moody event isn’t a huge one, but it’s very interesting. Up to about 300 people attend. 2021 details are to be confirmed.
Click Indigenous Peoples Day in Port Moody for more details.
National Indigenous Peoples Day in Surrey
In 2020 the activities were scheduled for June 21st with festivities to run from 3:00 until 8:00 pm. Unfortunately, the 2020 event was cancelled. So, for an idea of what to expect in 2021, the 2019 schedule of events is listed below:
- 4:00 pm – Welcoming Ceremony
- 4:30 pm – 7:30 pm – Cultural Sharing
- 7:30 pm – Closing Ceremony
The event in Surrey is a big one! Several thousand people usually attend, there are dozens of vendors and community stalls, and the entertainment is extensive.
For more information click Indigenous Peoples Day in Surrey.
Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Centre in Whistler
The Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Centre is a great place to visit and learn about Indigenous culture and history any time of the year. Located in Whistler’s Upper Village at 4584 Blackcomb Way, the centre has exhibits and a really good gift shop. They also offer tours daily and host special events for the public at various times.
To learn more about the venue see the Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Centre.
The Lower Mainland is on the unceded traditional lands of the Coast Salish people. In Vancouver this includes the territories of the Musqueam, Tsleil-Waututh and Squamish nations.
First Nations in other parts of Metro Vancouver and the Lower Mainland include the Hwlitsum, Katzie, Kwantlen, Kwikwetlem, Matsqui, Qayqayt, Semiahmoo, Sto:lo and Tsawwassen nations.
For information about other related events at other times of the year, click Lower Mainland First Nations.
For a list of other types of events throughout the year, click Festivals & Events Calendar.