(Image / Royal BC Museum Facebook)

Not only is today the first day of summer, but it’s also National Indigenous Peoples Day.

In cooperation with Indigenous organizations, the Government of Canada chose June 21st, the summer solstice, for the observation.

National Indigenous Peoples day is a time for all Canadians to recognize and celebrate the unique history, diverse cultures, and remarkable contributions of First Nations, Inuit, and Métis peoples.

There are several events being hosted around the region today including:

Royal Roads University – Lək̓ʷəŋən Homelands

Residing on the traditional lands of the Lekwungen (Songhees) and Xwsepsum (Esquimalt) peoples, a full day of activities are planned beginning at 10 a.m. and going until 3 p.m. today.

The event started with a canoe landing following protocol and welcoming ceremony on the shore of the Esquimalt Lagoon.

Schools and community members of all ages are encouraged to take part in canoe challenges, field games and a guided nature walk.

In addition to the events, there will be Indigenous food, art, storytelling, interactive showcases, field games, craft workshops, vendors market, performances, traditional plant walks and more.

If you can’t make it, you can watch the livestream here.

  • Where: Royal Roads University, 2005 Sooke Road
  • When: Tuesday, June 21st, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Explore the Songhees

Explore Songhees National Indigenous Peoples Day Celebrations get underway at 3:30 p.m. at the Inner Harbour Lower Causeway and goes until 6 p.m.

The community is invited to honour and celebrate the many strengths, achievements, language, knowledge, culture, songs, dances, and traditions of the Songhees people. “We are a strong, sovereign Nation with rich history and extraordinary leadership and vision.”

Enjoy a traditional bannock, cold drinks and orange shirts for sale at the Explore Songhees kiosk.

In addition to those events, Explore Songhees, the Nation’s tourism initiative, is expected to re-launch this month after a three-year hiatus with canoe rides, walking tours, storytelling and more.

  • Where: Inner Harbour Causeway, Ship Point
  • When: Tuesday, June 21st, 3:30 p.m. to 6 p.m.

Tsawout First Nation

Tsawout First Nation has a full day of activities planned which got underway at 9 a.m. today and will until 7 p.m. this evening. The day of events will conclude with fireworks at 9:30 p.m.

Event organizers say there will be Kids’ activities, painting, music bingo, eco-activities, a photo booth, canoe rides, community dinner, Tzinquaw dancers, the bone game and much more.

  • Where: 7728 Tetayut Road, Saanichton
  • When: Tuesday, June 21st, 9 a.m. to 10:30 p.m.

There are also several events happening further up island, those events include:

Cowichan Tribes Homelands

Beginning at 11 a.m., the Cowichan community is invited to join in for a day of activities including Cedar Rose making, drumming for medicine, painting paddles and canvases, making a drumstick and more.

There will also be opportunities to learn the language of the Cowichan peoples, Hul’qumi’num.

  • Where: Si’em Lelum Soccer Fields, 5574 River Road
  • When: Tuesday, June 21st, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Ladysmith – Stz’uminus Homelands

The Stz’uminus First Nation is hosting an event full of culture, dancing and learning. Starting at Transfer Beach starting at 10 a.m.

Event organizers says there will be performances by the Tzinquaw Dancers, Nate Harris, and the Young Wolves Dance Group. There will also be arts, crafts, food, a bouncy castle and Knowledge Keepers and Holders, and vendors to explore and learn from.

  • Where: Transfer Beach Park, Stz’uminus Homelands in Ladysmith
  • When: Tuesday, June 21st, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Port Alberni – Hupačasath First Nation

People around the Alberni Valley and across Nuu-chah-nulth territories have come to Hupacasath ha’houlthee to celebrate the unveiling of the artwork on the Harbour Quay Clock Tower.

HFN will gather to celebrate the heritage, and artwork significant to the living culture continuously observed in the hupačasath ha’houlthee.

City residents and visitors alike are encouraged to come out and experience this event to participate in an exciting day celebrating the vibrant Nuu-chah-nulth culture across the west coast of Vancouver Island.

“We look forward to unveiling the refurbished clock tower that spotlights artwork from Tseshaht First Nation artist Willard Gallic Jr., which signifies the sacred Wolf Ritual.”

Hupacasath is eager to share Kleekhoot Gold, Bigleaf Maple Syrup, as a vendor at the event.

“Having works of Indigenous art available in the public eye is vital to the rich living culture experienced daily in the hupačasath ha’houlthee. As Indigenous Peoples, we honour ourselves, families, communities, lands, and cultures daily and look forward to sharing this experience with others on National Indigenous Peoples Day.”

  • Where: Alberni Harbour Quay in Port Alberni
  • When: Tuesday, June 21st, times were not provided

Know of another community event celebrating National Indigenous Peoples Day? Let us know in the comment section below!