Hundreds of people around the West Shore celebrated National Indigenous Peoples Day, as a step towards reconciliation Thursday.
One of the largest celebrations took place at Royal Roads University. Premier John Horgan and Minister of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation Scott Fraser helped kick off the festivities by participating in canoe landing protocol practice.
As part of the protocol, Horgan and Fraser paddled up to the shores and asked Esquimalt Nation Chief Edward Thomas for permission to come ashore – which Thomas granted.
Chief Edward Thomas of the Esquimalt Nation.
“It’s an emotional day for me,” said Thomas of National Indigenous Peoples Day. “To be able to celebrate a day, a people that have had so much happen to them due to generations that we can’t keep that hurt and anger. It’s time to start living, learning and sharing who we are as a people … Hopefully we can build more of these days where we can share who we are.”
Events got underway at 10:30 a.m. and included a canoe challenge, traditional drumming, singing and dancing, children’s field games, traditional foods, crafts, workshops, artists vendors and a traditional plant walk along Colwood Creek with Cowichan Nation Elder Kenneth Elliot.
Festivities continued at West Shore Parks and Recreation with performances by Esquimalt Singers, Stzuminus Mustimuhw, Indian Bay Singers and hoop dancer Alex Wells. The festival also included children’s activities, bouncy castles, Indigenous artists, demonstrations and information booths.
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Festivities wrap up around 3 p.m. at West Shore Parks and Recreation and around 3:30 p.m. at Royal Roads University Thursday.