PHOTOS: National Indigenous Peoples Day celebrations pack Royal Roads University

A drum circle performs in front of hundreds of audience members Tuesday during National Indigenous Peoples Day celebrations June 21 at Royal Roads University. (Justin Samanski-Langille/News Staff)A drum circle performs in front of hundreds of audience members Tuesday during National Indigenous Peoples Day celebrations June 21 at Royal Roads University. (Justin Samanski-Langille/News Staff)
A pair of canoes participate in the traditional Canoe Landing Protocol Tuesday during National Indigenous Peoples Day celebrations June 21 at Royal Roads University. (Justin Samanski-Langille/News Staff)A pair of canoes participate in the traditional Canoe Landing Protocol Tuesday during National Indigenous Peoples Day celebrations June 21 at Royal Roads University. (Justin Samanski-Langille/News Staff)
A pair of dancers in fur skins perform Tuesday during National Indigenous Peoples Day celebrations at Royal Roads University. (Justin Samanski-Langille/News Staff)A pair of dancers in fur skins perform Tuesday during National Indigenous Peoples Day celebrations at Royal Roads University. (Justin Samanski-Langille/News Staff)
A pair of dancers with the Metis Nation of Greater Victoria perform Tuesday during National Indigenous Peoples Day celebrations at Royal Roads University. (Justin Samanski-Langille/News Staff)A pair of dancers with the Metis Nation of Greater Victoria perform Tuesday during National Indigenous Peoples Day celebrations at Royal Roads University. (Justin Samanski-Langille/News Staff)
Attendees check out one of the many vendors on display Tuesday during National Indigenous Peoples Day celebrations at Royal Roads University. (Justin Samanski-Langille/News Staff)Attendees check out one of the many vendors on display Tuesday during National Indigenous Peoples Day celebrations at Royal Roads University. (Justin Samanski-Langille/News Staff)
A Metis canoe approaches the shore Tuesday during National Indigenous Peoples Day celebrations at Royal Roads University. (Justin Samanski-Langille/News Staff)A Metis canoe approaches the shore Tuesday during National Indigenous Peoples Day celebrations at Royal Roads University. (Justin Samanski-Langille/News Staff)
A Metis tent is setup on display Tuesday during National Indigenous Peoples Day celebrations at Royal Roads University. (Justin Samanski-Langille/News Staff)A Metis tent is setup on display Tuesday during National Indigenous Peoples Day celebrations at Royal Roads University. (Justin Samanski-Langille/News Staff)
Murray Rankin, minister of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation, speaks from a canoe during a traditional canoe landing protocol Tuesday during National Indigenous Peoples Day celebrations at Royal Roads University. (Justin Samanski-Langille/News Staff)Murray Rankin, minister of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation, speaks from a canoe during a traditional canoe landing protocol Tuesday during National Indigenous Peoples Day celebrations at Royal Roads University. (Justin Samanski-Langille/News Staff)
A dancer in regalia performs Tuesday during National Indigenous Peoples Day celebrations at Royal Roads University. (Justin Samanski-Langille/News Staff)A dancer in regalia performs Tuesday during National Indigenous Peoples Day celebrations at Royal Roads University. (Justin Samanski-Langille/News Staff)
A pair of dancers in fur skins perform Tuesday during National Indigenous Peoples Day celebrations at Royal Roads University. (Justin Samanski-Langille/News Staff)A pair of dancers in fur skins perform Tuesday during National Indigenous Peoples Day celebrations at Royal Roads University. (Justin Samanski-Langille/News Staff)
A story is told inside a tepee Tuesday during National Indigenous Peoples Day celebrations at Royal Roads University. (Justin Samanski-Langille/News Staff)A story is told inside a tepee Tuesday during National Indigenous Peoples Day celebrations at Royal Roads University. (Justin Samanski-Langille/News Staff)
A canoe arrives on shore for the traditional canoe landing protocol Tuesday during National Indigenous Peoples Day celebrations at Royal Roads University. (Justin Samanski-Langille/News Staff)A canoe arrives on shore for the traditional canoe landing protocol Tuesday during National Indigenous Peoples Day celebrations at Royal Roads University. (Justin Samanski-Langille/News Staff)

With a crowd of thousands gathered to watch, canoes crossed the Esquimalt Lagoon to the shores of the Royal Roads University campus in Colwood on Tuesday, with a leader from each boat stopping to ask permission to land.

It’s a ceremony which has been performed on the lands of the Lekwungen and Xwsepsum peoples for generations, and on this occasion it was the job of Lekwungen Elder Yux’wey’lupton, or Butch Dick as he’s known by his English name to some, to grant each party permission to land, officially kicking off this year’s National Indigenous Peoples Day celebrations at the university.

With the canoes welcomed ashore, drumming, dancing and prayer followed before a parade of Elders and drummers made their way up to the main event grounds for the rest of the day’s activities.

There, even more people were waiting to watch performances while others stood in line at food trucks, browsed the many artisan booths, or explored tepees and listened to stories told by Elders.

“The pandemic really separated everyone, and this is an event that brings community back together, brings family back together to celebrate, honour and uphold Indigenous people,” said Asma-na-hi Antoine, director of Indigenous engagement at RRU and the event’s organizer. “More importantly, it is an opportunity for us to get together and have fun.”

Antoine said previous editions of the event were organized by herself and a small team at the school, but as more people in the community started to hear about it, the number of volunteers stepping up to help grew rapidly, to the point where the 2022 event saw 21 partner organizations involved.

RRU president Philip Steenkamp appreciated the event returning to in-person status, following pandemic-driven cancellations.

“We are deeply, deeply privileged to be able to work, live, and learn on these lands every single day,” he said. “How incredible it is to be back in person celebrating National Indigenous Peoples Day, it’s just an incredible event.”

READ MORE: Local Indigenous cultures celebrated across Greater Victoria


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Indigenous Peoples DayRoyal Roads UniversityWest Shore