What you need to know
June is National Indigenous History Month, and June 21 is National Indigenous Peoples Day. Learn about:
The Governor General of Canada proclaimed June 21 as National Indigenous Peoples Day in 1996, an occasion for Canadians to come together, reflect on and celebrate the unique heritage, traditions, and knowledge of First Nations, Inuit, and Métis Peoples.
We formally acknowledge that we are on the unceded traditional homelands of the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish), and səlilwətaɬ (Tsleil-Waututh) Nations and we are deeply grateful for those who have continued to inhabit and steward these lands every day since time immemorial.
The contributions of Indigenous Peoples to Vancouver’s past, present, and future are profound but often not well recognized. First Nations, Inuit, and Métis Peoples make vital contributions to advancing arts, culture, equity, safety, and community well-being throughout the city of Vancouver. We are grateful for the contributions of Urban Indigenous community members, past, present, and future, in shaping our city.
Artwork created by Candace Rose Thomas
The artwork for National Indigenous Peoples Day 2023 was created by Candace Rose Thomas, who is a proud member of the səlilwətaɬ (Tsleil-Waututh) Nation and a part of the Coast Salish community of artists. She takes great pride in her heritage and artistic abilities. Inspired by her great-grandfather, the late Chief Dan George, Candy has nurtured her talent since a young age and has dedicated herself to her artwork. Her connection to the land and waters surrounding her home community is profound, providing her with strength and serving as a constant source of inspiration for her unique designs.
Candy also holds a deep connection to the Downtown Eastside community. In 2017, she embarked on a recovery journey, which received tremendous support from the Downtown Eastside Connections Clinic. This experience has played a crucial role in her healing process. Through her involvement in the səlilwətaɬ community, Candy maintains a strong connection with her ancestors, whom she believes guide her on the path to maintaining good health and happiness.
With a passionate desire to inspire younger generations, Candy hopes to encourage them to embrace their artistic talents. She urges them to pick up a paintbrush or a coloured pencil and express themselves through art, just as she does. By sharing their artistic abilities, Candy believes that the younger generation can make their voices heard and contribute to the rich artistic legacy of their community.
Celebrate Indigenous cultures at Carnegie Community Centre street party on National Indigenous Peoples Day on June 21, 1pm to 4pm
We invite the public to commemorate National Indigenous Peoples Day by joining in the Carnegie Community Centre celebrations starting at 1pm at the 400 block of Main Street.
Main Street, between East Hastings and East Pender, will be closed for the celebration, offering a stage for cultural performances, community organization table, and opportunities for the public from all over Vancouver and the DTES to gather and celebrate together.
There will be a variety of giveaways and performances – including crafts, medicines, smudging, and pop-up performances from Muttdog, Carnegie’s lexwst’i:lem drum group, Big Drum with John Sam, dancer Larissa Healey, and more cultural sharing performances.
Flags to honour Host Nations and Indigenous Peoples
For the month of June we’re flying 16 Indigenous flags on City Hall’s flag island at 12th Ave and Cambie Street. Flags from the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam) Indian Band, Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish) Nation, səlilwətaɬ (Tsleil-Waututh) Nation will fly next to the National Indigenous Peoples Day 2023 flag designed by Candace Rose Thomas, in recognition that we are located on these Nations’ traditional, ancestral, and unceded territories.
Additional flags that will fly are:
- National Indigenous Peoples Day Flag 2022 – original design by Sam McKay
- Metis Nation Flag
- Every Child Matters Flag
- Indian Residential School Survivors Society Flag
- No More Stolen Sisters Flag Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls Flag (original design by Skundaal)
- Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls Flag
- Inclusive Pride Flag/Progress Flag
- Greater Vancouver Native Cultural Society Flag
- xʷməθkʷəy̓əm Two-Spirit Flag
- Sḵwx̱wú7mesh Nation Pride Flag
- səlilwətaɬ Nation Rainbow Flag
- Metro Vancouver Aboriginal Executive Council Flag
Canada’s Indian residential school system and other ongoing colonial structures and policies continue to cause deep-rooted grief, trauma, and loss. Since the confirmation of Le Estcwicwéy (The Missing) at the former Kamloops Indian Residential School on May 23, 2021, it has been a time of reckoning with the truth of the Indian residential school legacy, with confirmations of hundreds of unmarked graves in communities across the country. We stand with all Indigenous people who continue to experience the devastating impacts of Canada’s Indian residential school system and remain committed to working with xʷməθkʷəy̓əm, Sḵwx̱wú7mesh, and səlilwətaɬ Nations to develop a permanent memorial in honour of all those impacted.
As a City of Reconciliation, we remain committed to guiding our work with the 94 Calls to Action identified by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, in particular the calls to action identified in the 2016 Council report on Truth and Reconciliation Commission Calls to Action, and the recommendations outlined in the MMIWG2S Response Report PDF file (1.7 MB), adopted by City Council in 2022.
- Saa’ust Centre, brought to life by the Urban Indigenous Peoples' Advisory Committee's community, is an oasis for families and survivors affected by the national inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (MMIWG)
- First Nations Health Authority External website, opens in new tab provides culturally safe and trauma-informed cultural, emotional, and mental health services to Indigenous people in BC.
- Kuu-Us Crisis Line Society External website, opens in new tab provides crisis services for Indigenous people across BC. Adults and Elders can call 250-723-4050 for support; youth can call 250-723-2040. A toll-free number is available at 1-800-588-8717.
- At Vancouver Public Library’s Connection to Kith and Kin External website, opens in new tab, experts help Indigenous participants search online records for family documents. Searching can be an emotional experience. The Indian Residential School Survivors Society has provided a Resolution Health Support Worker to join the participants during their journey.
All settlers on this land have a responsibility to understand and address the ongoing impacts of colonization. We encourage residents to learn more about First Nations, Inuit, and Métis communities with the following resources:
- Organize a reading group with friends or colleagues to read one of:
- Honouring the Truth, Reconciling for the Future: Summary of the Final Report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada External website, opens in new tab, and understand the 94 Calls to Action External website, opens in new tab
- Reclaiming Power and Place: The Final Report of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls External website, opens in new tab, which includes 231 individual Calls for Justice for governments, institutions, and all Canadians
- Red Women Rising: Indigenous Women Survivors in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside External website, opens in new tab
- Follow Carnegie’s V6Activities YouTube channel External website, opens in new tab to learn Indigenous crafts and listen to stories from elders
- Learn how to pronounce šxʷƛ̓exən Xwtl’a7shn and šxʷƛ̓ənəq Xwtl’e7énḵ Square (formerly the Queen Elizabeth Theatre Plaza and the Vancouver Art Gallery north plaza)
- Discover the wealth of distinct Indigenous languages, art, and cultural heritage in BC through the First Peoples’ Map of BC External website, opens in new tab
- Explore resources to learn about the residential school system and its lasting impacts PDF file (113 KB) on Indigenous communities
- Follow Vancouver Public Library (VPL) for events with the Indigenous Storyteller in Residence External website, opens in new tab, Indigenous authors, and poets
- VPL has curated an extensive guide to learn about Indigenous peoples in Canada External website, opens in new tab including websites, online reports, recommended books and DVDs, and digital library resources