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National Indigenous Peoples Day celebrations kick off with canoe crossing

Events run for three days during the Victoria Indigenous Cultural Festival
Songhees Chief Ron Sam welcomes a crew of First Nations members and City of Victoria officials in the canoe crossing Thursday to kick of the Victoria Indigenous Cultural Festival. Nicole Crescenzi/VICTORIA NEWS

Members of the Songhees and Esquimalt First Nations, joined by City of Victoria officials, crossed the Inner Harbour in two canoes today as part of the opening ceremonies for the Victoria Indigenous Cultural Festival.

Canoe paddlers asked Songhees Chief Ron Sam for permission to come ashore, and afterwards the crew proceeded to the Royal BC Museum led by a singing drummer.

The three-day festival offers a chance for people to celebrate National Indigenous Peoples Day today (June 21), and from now until Saturday the grounds of the museum play host to Indigenous music, dance, art and food vendors.

ALSO READ: Nations gather for Indigenous cultural celebrations at Royal BC Museum

Events run all three days from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. and include smudge ceremonies, an artisan market, totem pole tours, cedar weaving and drum making demonstrations, canoe tours, and performances by local and visiting singers and dancers.

Traditional First Nations food (some with a modern twist) will also be available, including barbecued salmon burgers, fry bread and traditional clam chowder.

For more information on the even you can visit

Members of local First Nations helped kick off the Victoria Indigenous Cultural Festival on Thursday in the Inner Harbour. Nicole Crescenzi/VICTORIA NEWS