Port Moody National Indigenous Peoples Day celebrations take place at Rocky Point Park and include food, canoeing and entertainment on June 21st.
Due to the spread of the novel coronavirus, many large events in and around Vancouver have been cancelled. As of mid-May 2020, many events are either cancelled or have alternative activities taking place online.
Port Moody’s Indigenous Peoples Day celebrations did not happen in 2020. Hopefully they will in 2021, although details are to be confirmed.
National Indigenous Peoples Day in Port Moody
National Indigenous Peoples Day is celebrated in various forms in different communities across the Lower Mainland each year. The festivities in Port Moody are smaller than the main events in places like Vancouver and Surrey, but they are unique and especially interesting in a couple of ways.
Pretty much all Indigenous Peoples Day events include speeches by dignitaries, dance performances, drumming and other showcasing of First Nations culture. At the Port Moody event, however, there is also a water ceremony where those that wish can go out in traditional Indigenous canoes. There is also a “feast” where participants get treated to a sampling of salmon, a small side dish and a tiny dessert.
The event in Port Moody is free to attend (as are most other Indigenous Peoples Day events elsewhere). The canoeing and dinner options though are also both by donation.
Local First Nations
Rocky Point Park, Port Moody and the surrounding region are on the unceded traditional territories of the Kwikwetlem, Musqueam, Squamish, Stó:lō and Tsleil-Waututh First Nations.
Indigenous Peoples Day Schedule
The 2020 schedule has not been released yet. Below is the schedule from the activities in 2019 to give you an idea of what to expect.
- 5:00 (until 5:45) pm – Sign-in time for kayak and canoe participants
- 6:00 pm – Opening Ceremony
- 6:30 pm – Launch
- 7:00 pm – Water Ceremony
- 7:30 pm – Feast
- 8:00 pm – Witnesses
- 8:15 pm – M’Girls
- 8:45 pm – Curtis Clearsky & the Constellations
The Opening Ceremonies
Similar to National Indigenous Peoples Day celebrations elsewhere, the opening ceremony at the Port Moody event includes acknowledgement that the surrounding lands are the traditional unceded territories of the local First Nations. There is also storytelling, drumming, singing and the honouring of elders and dignitaries. After the conclusion of the opening ceremonies people are invited to head to the water.
The Water Ceremony
The water ceremony is arguably what makes the Port Moody event so special and unique compared to other similar June 21st events elsewhere in the Lower Mainland.
In 2019 there were five canoes with between 12 and around 18 passengers in each. Whoever wanted (and registered in advance and there was space for) got to paddle out into the inlet. Another 20 or so paddled out in kayaks. In total, the trip took between about 30 and 45 minutes. People not going out of the water watched from the pier.
In 2019, after the water ceremony, canoe participants and folk who watched from the pier headed back up to the main event venue by the stage in Rocky Point Park. There they got in line – with elders first – and enjoyed a complimentary meal of salmon or beef, a rice dish and a small jam-filled pastry dessert.
Each year, attendees at the event are encouraged to bring their own picnic blankets, plates and eating utensils. There are tables and chairs for people to sit at too though, and paper plates and forks are available for those that need them.
The “feast” is just a small sampling of food, but it’s delicious. Tickets for it are required, but available onsite to everyone that wants.
After the food has been distributed a couple of local First Nations groups provide entertainment. In 2019 the performers were M’Girls and then Curtis Clearsky & the Constellations.
For more information about the June 21st event at Rocky Point Park see the Port Moody Ecology Society‘s website (as they were the group that hosted the event last year).
A number of organizations helped sponsor the Port Moody event in 2019 including Vancity Credit Union (which sponsors lots of local community events) and the Pasta Polo Restaurant (who generously donated the food for the feast).
For a list of other similar events taking place in other parts of the Lower Mainland click National Indigenous Peoples Day in Vancouver.
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
- Lower Mainland Parks and Nature