Submitted by Heritage Interpreters Lina K. and Pearl C. Photos by Jason W.
On Saturday June 22, 2019, presented in partnership with Connections Community Services Society, the Gulf of Georgia Cannery National Historic Site was home to the vibrant Welcoming the Sun celebration to commemorate National Indigenous Peoples Day and the Summer Solstice.
The celebration opened with a collaborative performance between the Starchild Drumming Group and the Eagle Connection Dancers. With high energy and loud voices, the drumming group attracted dozens of people to listen and follow them into the Cannery. The Eagle Connection Dancers moved swiftly with their feet, the tiny silver horns or small wooden paddles on their robes jangling in harmony, and invited audience members to dance along with them. Meanwhile, Indigenous storytelling and games were held inside the historic cannery, entertaining children and adults alike.
A photography exhibit by Musqueam artist Cole Sparrow streamed on screen inside the Boiler House Theatre, presented by the Richmond Art Gallery. There were also outdoor exhibitors, including Pathways Aboriginal Youth Centre, Richmond Public Library, Parks Canada, and event sponsor Port of Vancouver.
Throughout the event, many stopped by to paint a community mural facilitated by First Nations artist Christine MacKenzie. It depicted the life cycle of the salmon, from egg to spawning salmon, all in the shape of a large tree. Visitors used red paint to add their artistic touches in the painting of the mural, and the finished product consisted of unique styles that showed off the collaborative nature of this project. At the end of the day, the mural was carried by the performers outside the Cannery where the closing ceremony was held with more dancing and singing.
We would like to thank everyone who joined us to celebrate our local Indigenous arts and culture, and gratefully acknowledge the support of presenting sponsor Port of Vancouver. We hope to see both new and returning faces at next year’s National Indigenous Peoples Day celebration.