June 21 is National Indigenous Peoples Day in Canada. Since 1996, it has been an annual occasion for celebration and community gathering for Indigenous people across the country.
The past few weeks have been exceptionally difficult for the Indigenous community, as we mourn the children found at former residential schools in Kamloops, BC and Brandon, Manitoba. But as Billy-Ray Belcourt writes, "Joy is art is an ethics of resistance." Standing with the Indigenous community in grief is important, but so too is celebrating their resilience and delight.
To that end, here are a few ways to mark this occasion:
- Register for the Indigenous History Forum: Truth-Telling at the Museum of Vancouver, a free two-day event hosted by the Pacific Association of First Nations Women. The forum is open to the public and features the Squamish, Musqueam and Tsleil-Waututh Nations, as well as presentations from the Haida, Algonquin, Haudenosaunee, Métis, and Inuit people. A wonderful opportunity to learn more about Indigenous history.
- Learn more about whose territory you are on, and what language is spoken by that Nation. The First Peoples' Cultural Council has created an interactive map to help you learn more about the 204 First Nations in BC, which has the most linguistic diversity of any region in Canada.
- If you're in Vancouver, attend the annual National Indigenous Peoples Day celebration at Trout Lake. Find other celebrations in the Lower Mainland here. Please pack a mask and hand sanitizer, and be respectful of others in public spaces.
- To participate online, the Talking Stick Festival, an annual festival of Indigenous and performance that is now in its 20th season, is hosting virtual events through July 1. Check them out and register!
- The Vancouver International Film Festival is hosting Who We Are, a film series from three Indigenous curators. Between June 21 and July 4, watch five films from diverse creators exploring and celebrating Indigenous history. You can purchase a series pass or single-film ticket. Tickets and passes are free to Indigenous peoples.
- This month, Emily Carr has been spotlighting the work of some of our talented Indigenous students and alumni. View the work of Destanie Clayton, Amber Ross, Preston Buffalo, and Levi Nelson— and follow us on Instagram to see more profiles through June.
- Learn about the work of Indigenous land defenders and lend your support. We recently profiled Naas, an ECU student and protestor at Fairy Creek.
- Support Indigenous-owned businesses today. Order your next summer read from Massy Books, located near Emily Carr University.
Amid the celebrations, remember that honouring Indigenous People doesn't begin and end on June 21. Decolonization is a long process that we must commit to every day. For those in our community who want to know how ECU is working toward decolonization, you can learn more by viewing our Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Action Plan.