GVHA manages properties in the heart of Lekwungen territory – the Victoria Cruise Ship Terminal, Fisherman’s Wharf, the Causeway, Ship Point, and the Wharf Street and Johnson Street marinas. The Songhees and Esquimalt Nations continue to demonstrate their historical ties to these lands through a number of initiatives.
First Nations War Canoe Races
For the first time in over a century, 2015 saw traditional First Nations war canoe races return to Victoria’s Inner Harbour, the traditional territory of the Lekwungen People. The Ku-sing-ay-las canoe races demonstrate the importance of this activity to the Lekwungen People. Canoe pulling is more than a sport; it supports mental and spiritual health and wellness.
A traditional war canoe is hand carved from red cedar and is approximately 40 feet long. The war canoe holds 11 people, but there are also six-seaters (called six-man canoes), two-seaters (called double canoes), and singles. Classic war canoe races see participants paddle four races with different heats and age categories.
To learn more, visit www.exploresonghees.com and join one of their cultural canoe tours.
Indigenous Artists Causeway Program
GVHA reserves the entire south side of the Lower Causeway in the Inner Harbour for the production and sale of traditional carvings and artwork by Indigenous carvers and artisans. This part of the Inner Harbour market was coordinated by Songhees Nation and overseen by both Nations.
Juggler’s Pitch is a central area in the Inner Harbour where street performers entertain visitors and locals alike. In 2014, GVHA funded the development of an interpretative screen that highlights the history of the Lekwungen People.
Signs of Lekwungen
Established in 2008, the Signs of Lekwungen 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 hundreds of years. Coast Salish artist Butch Dick designed the seven spindle whorls that are placed throughout the city. Spindle whorls were originally used by Coast Salish women to spin wool. They are considered the foundation of a Coast Salish family. Seven site markers are located throughout Victoria’s harbour area and the one shown below is located on Victoria’s Harbour.