Indigenous Cultural Festival
We are looking forward to the upcoming annual Indigenous Cultural Festival presented by Indigenous Tourism BC in Victoria BC, from June 21st – 23rd. We are excited to see the Canoe Crossing arrive in the Inner Harbour, a property that we proudly operate and manage. Our organization was founded on the belief that maintaining a strong relationship with the Esquimalt Nation and Songhees Nation is paramount in shaping the organization’s future. We are proud to have had representatives of these two Nations on our Board of Directors since our inception in 2002, providing key input and feedback on strategic business and policy decisions.
The Indigenous Culture Festival consists of three days of outdoor performances, shows, and celebrations from the Esquimalt Nation and Songhees Nation, as well as Indigenous guests from across the province. The festival features traditional artisans who will be on-site with their various goods for sale, such as carvings, jewelry, and more. We cannot wait to try the culinary talents of the Songhees Nation, whose ‘Songhees Seafood & Steam’ food truck will be on site serving authentic and traditional cuisine. For these reasons and more, we are very proud to be a sponsor and guest for this event.
In collaboration with Esquimalt Nation and Songhees Nation, we have, developed a number of initiatives that illustrate the historical ties of the Lekwungen people to the land we are on today. For example, the Signs of Lekwungen, established in 2008, is an interpretive walkway along the Inner Harbour and surrounding areas that honours the art, history, and culture of the Coast Salish people who have resided in the Victoria area for millennia. Coast Salish artist Butch Dick of the Songhees Nation designed the spindle whorls; these tools were originally used by Coast Salish women to spin wool. In addition, the south side of the Inner Harbour lower causeway features the First Nations’ Causeway Artists’ Program. This area is reserved for First Nations carvers and artisans and is overseen by the Songhees Nation. The Inner Harbour also hosts Jugglers Pitch, which educates and informs those who visit of the traditional history of the local area and the communities who resided there. So, it seems very fitting for the Indigenous Cultural Festival Canoe Crossing to arrive near the Commonwealth Corner in the Inner Harbour surrounded by these community projects that highlight the history and culture of the Lekwungen people.
More recently, the Unity Wall Mural at the Ogden Point Breakwater features First Nation artists and youth artists sharing their culture through art, which is featured as a public art piece that creates a bridge between cultures. We proudly continue to update and promote the mural, and its inherent cultural value.
Looking forward, GVHA wishes to maintain and strengthen the relationship we have with the Esquimalt Nation and the Songhees Nation. We wish to provide more diverse opportunities for the Lekwungen community and youth within our organization, as we continue to learn from them and their history on this land. The Indigenous Cultural Festival provides us with an opportunity to learn about the incredible breadth of talent of local Indigenous communities and brings us together in celebration.