Where to celebrate National Indigenous Peoples Day in Vancouver

June 21 is National Indigenous Peoples Day, a celebration of Indigenous peoples’ culture and heritage in Canada. There are many events planned across the country; here are a few in Vancouver, including an outdoor celebration at an East Van park, a documentary film and Indigenous dance performances.

The Cinematheque: Two Films by Elle-Máijá Tailfeathers (June 21 – 7 p.m. at the Cinematheque, 1131 Howe St.)—The Cinematheque presents two documentaries by Vancouver-based filmmaker/actor Elle-Máijá Tailfeathers (of Blackfoot and Sámi heritage). c̓əsnaʔəm: the city before the city was a multi-site museum exhibition opened in 2015 at the Musqueam Cultural Centre, the UBC Museum of Anthropology, and the Museum of Vancouver. Tailfeathers’s attending film, c̓əsnaʔəm: the city before the city (2017) was released two years later. The film chronicles the 2012 struggle of the Musqueam community to halt construction of a condo development on the unceded land of their ancestral village and burial ground, c̓əsnaʔəm (aka Great Marpole Midden) and gives an account of the Musqueam people’s history and living culture. “If ever a document called out to be in the core curriculum for B.C. schools, this cool-headed, lovingly made film is one.” (Ken Eisner, Georgia Straight). This film will be preceded by Tailfeather’s award-winning 2014 short, Bihttoš (Rebel). Mixing archival footage, re-enactments, and animation, Elle-Máijá Tailfeathers’s poignant documentary explores how past injustices impacted the marriage of her Blackfoot mother and Sámi father. Best Documentary Short, Seattle IFF, 2015. (Tickets: $12 adult $10 senior/student)

Vancouver-based filmmaker/actor Elle-Máijá Tailfeathers.

National Indigenous Day at Trout Lake— A community-based, full day of events in East Vancouver showcases and celebrates the diversity of Indigenous people across Canada. First Nations, Métis, and Inuit people gather to share their spirit, experiences, stories, songs, art and dance with each other and the general community. The day kicks off with a pancake breakfast (9-11 a.m.) at Vancouver Aboriginal Friendship Centre (1607 E. Hastings St.)  followed by a Friendship Walk to Trout Lake for an afternoon of music, dancing, vendors, and canoe tours.

Matriarchs Uprising: Indigenous Women Dancing Stories of Transformation (June 20-22 at Scotiabank Dance Centre, 677 Davie St. and 8EAST, 8 East Pender St.)—Matriarchs Uprising is a celebration of contemporary dance by Indigenous women. The curated program includes performances, events and circle conversations across three days. Highlights include solo works by Australia’s Mariaa Randall, Maura Garcia Dance from the United States, and Canada’s acclaimed Kaha:wi Dance Theatre, Jessica McMann and Cheyenne Rain LeGrande from the Prairies, and locally-based artists Raven Spirit Dance and Starrwind Dance Projects. (Tickets: $30/$22 students and seniors/3-show pack $75 at ticketstonight.ca and 604-684-2787)

Kahawi Dance Theatre’s Santee-Smith. Ian-R-Maracle photo.

Initiated by the Government of Canada in cooperation with Indigenous organizations, this event, occurring on the summer solstice, provides an opportunity to recognize, reflect on, and learn about the rich histories, diverse traditions, and outstanding contributions of First Nations, Inuit, and Métis peoples.

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