Multi-nation drumming, singing groups highlight First People’s Festival in Victoria

National Aboriginal Day celebrated with entertainment, food and culture

Members of the Esquimalt and Songhees nations, among others, will perform in Victoria’s Centennial Square on Sunday (June 17) as part of the annual First People’s Festival.

The free festival is part of the celebration of National Aboriginal Day, which is officially marked on June 21. In store for the Victoria audience are performances by more than 100 drummers and dancers.

Two featured groups are the Unity Drummers and Singers, led by Songhees cultural leader Butch Dick, and the University of Victoria powwow drummers. Both are comprised of members of First Nations from across Canada who are currently living in Greater Victoria.

“It’s all about gathering and celebrating,” said event organizer Ron Rice, a Cowichan Tribes member living in the city. “I can see my culture in the different dances, songs and art, and that brings me great pride.”

Special guests include the Kwhlii Gibaykw Nisga’a Dancers from Vancouver, and 30 children from the Journeys of the Heart cultural learning program of the Hulitan Family and Community Services Society in Victoria.

The festival also includes an aboriginal arts and crafts market, where visitors can find handcrafted pieces and learn about First Nations culture and traditions.

The artist market runs from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., while the entertainment is scheduled between 11:30 a.m. and 5 p.m.

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