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Here's how to celebrate National Indigenous History Month on the North Shore

National Indigenous Peoples Day is June 21, and the wider month presents many opportunities to learn about local First Nations culture
National Indigenous Peoples Day encourages those in Canada to learn of the culture of the local Tsleil-Waututh, Squamish and Musqueam Nations. | Mina Kerr-Lazenby

June 21 marks National Indigenous Peoples Day, a day designed to celebrate, recognize and honour First Nations, Inuit and Métis cultures.

Celebrations are happening across North and West Vancouver on that day and throughout June, which is National Indigenous History Month. Many local events have a particular purpose of raising awareness of the history, culture and traditions of the two First Nations that call the North Shore home, the Tsleil-Waututh Nation and Sḵwx̱wú7mesh Úxwumixw (Squamish Nation).

Here's a full round-up of what’s happening on June 21 and throughout the month:

Indigenous Month at MONOVA

The museum of North Vancouver’s team of Indigenous Cultural Programmers have created a number of events and screenings to coincide with National Indigenous History Month. Highlights include a wool weaving workshop with the Squamish Nation’s Jordan Dawson on June 11, a Bannock Bake Off June 24, Coast Salish painting with Tsawaysia Spukwus June 25, and a celebration of Coast Salish wool weaving on June 22.

For those who have not yet experienced the museum’s latest exhibition, Stém̓xwulh: Woolly Dog Weavings, which highlights the now-extinct Coast Salish woolly dog and the importance it held within First Nations communities, this month marks the perfect opportunity.

Local libraries

The West Vancouver library will be hosting movie screenings and storytelling sessions to educate and entertain throughout the month of June. On their film roster includes the documentary Ever Deadly, by Canadian Inuk throat singer Tanya Tagaq, and coming-of-age movie Wildhood. Squamish Nation Elders will also be telling stories of their culture and history from June 9-19.

At the North Vancouver District Public Library's Capilano branch, staff are putting the fun into learning with an updated version of Ta7talíya Michelle Nahanee’s award-winning giant decolonial board game, Walking in Good Relations, a Sínulkhay & Ladders. Created to help players unlearn anti-Indigenous racism, the new iteration gives opportunities for players to relearn how they relate to Host Nations, local languages and histories. A guided game session is available June 24 from 2 p.m. to 3:30 p.m., registration required. The game is also available for people to borrow and play in the comfort of their own home.

On Wednesday, June 14 at the North Vancouver City Library, Squamish artists and master weavers Chepximiya Siyam’ Chief Janice George and Skwetsimeltxw Buddy Joseph will discuss their new weavings Honouring our Leaders and Honouring our Ancestors, now installed at the library.

Explore Indigenous Art

The sprawling selection of Indigenous galleries and art houses on the North Shore are offering an especially aesthetically pleasing way to connect with First Nations culture. At the Inuit Gallery for example, located opposite Shipyard’s Coffee, a solo exhibit from Inuit artist Koomuatuk Curley showcases sculptures inspired by his childhood summers spent living off the land.

Horseshoe Bay’s Spirit Gallery hosts a wide selection of West Coast Indigenous art from both renowned and emerging artists, from carvings to clothing, while Spirit Works, in North Vancouver, hosts a combination of display and for sale traditional, cultural pieces.

Takaya Tours

Offering a more hands-on route to experience the culture, traditions and history of the Tsleil-Waututh people are Takaya Tours.

Hosting cultural tours in their mighty 35-foot ocean ready canoes, Takaya Tours takes riders paddling through the waters of Burrard Inlet and the Indian Arm. Hosts on board sing Coast Salish songs, tell the legends and time-honoured stories and traditions of the Tsleil-Waututh people and point out the local, ancient village sites, including Whey-ah-Wichen (Cates Park) and the wivnter village site, təmtəmíxʷtən (Tum-tumay-whueton), in Belcarra Regional Park.

There are also split tours available, with both canoeing and walking options.

National Indigenous Peoples Day at Ambleside

On Wednesday, June 21, National Indigenous Peoples Day itself, an afternoon of festivities will be held at West Vancouver’s Ambleside Park from 3:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. Among the activities will be live music performances, Indigenous workshops, storytelling sessions and canoe race, not to mention a salmon barbecue to ensure all in attendance don’t go hungry.

Indigenous Storytelling

A morning of storytelling courtesy of the Elders of the Squamish People will take place at the Squamish Nation Elders Centre June 13. The event will begin with a blessing offered by Elder Val Moody, before leading into a series of stories shared by Elder Paitsmauk Dave Jacobs. A Q&A session will close.

Experience First Nations fare

Those interested in exploring Indigenous culture through their stomachs can do so locally at the famous Mr Bannock’s food truck at 433 West 1st Street. Squamish Nation chef Paul Natrall has been awarded for his innovative twists on traditional fare, with his menu comprising dishes like bannock waffles, mixed grill platters and tacos.

Is there something missing from this list? If you know of any events happening for National Indigenous History Month, forward them on to

Mina Kerr-Lazenby is the North Shore News’ Indigenous and civic affairs reporter. This reporting beat is made possible by the Local Journalism Initiative.

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