Monday, July 22, 2024

‘It feels like we’re home today’: 25 photos of National Indigenous Peoples Day at Royal Roads

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Today, people from all over Vancouver Island gathered for the National Indigenous Peoples Day at Royal Roads University on the traditional lands of the lək̓ʷəŋən People and Songhees and Esquimalt First Nations. 

Festivities were planned from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. in which attendees were able to learn and teach one another while taking time to honour the lands on which we live, work and play. 

The celebration opened with a performance from the lək̓ʷəŋən Traditional Dancers followed by a heartfelt speech on what the day means to them in which one performer stated “It feels like we’re home today” while gathered by Esquimalt Lagoon’s waters.

Following the performance and a handful of meaningful and celebratory speeches, Yuxwelupton Qwal’ qaxala, whose self-described “street name,” is Bradley Dick, and his father Yux’wey’lupton, known by his English name, Clarence “Butch” Dick, performed a song.

Their song was the beginning of the traditional canoe landing protocol, which would welcome the 10 canoes waiting in the lagoon to the shores. 

During this protocol, canoes come to shore in groups and request to come ashore. Those in the canoes represented different First Nations and organizations who were involved in the festivities of the day. 

Metis Nation of Greater Victoria’s canoe at Royal Roads’ National Indigenous Peoples Day celebration (Curtis Blandy/Victoria Buzz)
lək̓ʷəŋən Traditional Dancers at Royal Roads’ National Indigenous Peoples Day celebration (Curtis Blandy/Victoria Buzz)
lək̓ʷəŋən Traditional Dancers at Royal Roads’ National Indigenous Peoples Day celebration (Curtis Blandy/Victoria Buzz)
A performer of the lək̓ʷəŋən Traditional Dancers with Bradley Dick at Royal Roads’ National Indigenous Peoples Day celebration (Curtis Blandy/Victoria Buzz)
Butch and Bradley Dick welcoming the canoes to shore at Royal Roads’ National Indigenous Peoples Day celebration (Curtis Blandy/Victoria Buzz)
Butch Dick speaking to the canoe spokesperson as they request to come ashore at Royal Roads’ National Indigenous Peoples Day celebration (Curtis Blandy/Victoria Buzz)
Traditional canoe protocol at Royal Roads’ National Indigenous Peoples Day celebration (Curtis Blandy/Victoria Buzz)

Following the canoe landing protocol, the massive group of attendees made their way to the ground for food, to check out local Indigenous artists wares and to engage in the many educational activities throughout the grounds. 

The area was packed full of people with around 2,500 students in attendance and countless others traversing the Esquimalt Lagoon fields, lining up for fresh fry bread, checking out the several teepees set up by the Victoria Native Friendship Centre and enjoying the beautiful sunny weather. 

At around noon, attendees started to gather at the main stage and performers from different Nations and artistic backgrounds put on an incredible show. 

The performances started off with the Joyful Jiggers with musical accompaniment from Calvin Cairnes and Ry Moran, then the Ribbon Skirt Dancers danced in front of the stage and even invited any and all kids in attendance to come up and learn to dance with them. 

Following them, Esquimalt Singers and Dancers, Red Buff, Karen Lee White & Friends and Ahoousaht Drummers and Singers performed. 

Coinciding with the performances, voyageur and traditional Coast Salish canoes paired off and raced in the lagoon to a crowd of onlookers. 

Artisan’s booth at Royal Roads’ National Indigenous Peoples Day celebration (Curtis Blandy/Victoria Buzz)
Medicine Wheel Publishing at Royal Roads’ National Indigenous Peoples Day celebration (Curtis Blandy/Victoria Buzz)
Beaded jewelry at Royal Roads’ National Indigenous Peoples Day celebration (Curtis Blandy/Victoria Buzz)
Artist’s stand at Royal Roads’ National Indigenous Peoples Day celebration (Curtis Blandy/Victoria Buzz)
Carved wood art at Royal Roads’ National Indigenous Peoples Day celebration (Curtis Blandy/Victoria Buzz)
Carved wood art at Royal Roads’ National Indigenous Peoples Day celebration (Curtis Blandy/Victoria Buzz)
Volunteer with a fresh batch of fry bread at Royal Roads’ National Indigenous Peoples Day celebration (Curtis Blandy/Victoria Buzz)
Volunteers handing out free fry bread to a never-ending line of attendees at Royal Roads’ National Indigenous Peoples Day celebration (Curtis Blandy/Victoria Buzz)
Calvin Cairnes and Ry Moran Calvin Cairnes and Ry Mora
Joyful Jiggers at Royal Roads’ National Indigenous Peoples Day celebration (Curtis Blandy/Victoria Buzz)
Ribbon Skirt Dancers at Royal Roads’ National Indigenous Peoples Day celebration (Curtis Blandy/Victoria Buzz)
Ribbon Skirt Dancers with all the kids they invited to dance with them at at Royal Roads’ National Indigenous Peoples Day celebration (Curtis Blandy/Victoria Buzz)
Youngest members of Esquimalt Drummers and Singers at Royal Roads’ National Indigenous Peoples Day celebration (Curtis Blandy/Victoria Buzz)
Esquimalt Drummers and Singers at Royal Roads’ National Indigenous Peoples Day celebration (Curtis Blandy/Victoria Buzz)
Camosun College’s canoe celebrating their win over Royal Roads at Royal Roads’ National Indigenous Peoples Day celebration (Curtis Blandy/Victoria Buzz)
Canoe race at Royal Roads’ National Indigenous Peoples Day celebration (Curtis Blandy/Victoria Buzz)

If you missed out on the fun and celebration of National Indigenous Peoples Day this year, mark your calendar and make sure to have the day off next year, because this is a really special and important occasion for everyone living on Turtle Island to recognize.

mm
Curtis Blandy
curtis@victoriabuzz.com

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