Burnaby National Aboriginal Day Celebration
On Wednesday, June 21st, hundreds came out to Civic Square for Burnaby’s second annual National Aboriginal Day Celebration. This special event held every year in communities across Canada highlights the unique heritage, diverse cultures and outstanding achievements of First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples. The Burnaby celebration was organized by a coalition of community partners, including Burnaby Neighbourhood House, Burnaby School District, Burnaby Public Library, City of Burnaby, Burnaby Village Museum, Spirit of the Children Society, Burnaby Art Gallery, and local parents.
The afternoon portion of the event was dedicated to Burnaby elementary school students who participated in a variety of activities. Children rotated through several stations run by the Burnaby School District’s Aboriginal Education team and community partners. Some of the highlights included carving with First Nations artist Jackie Timothy, learning how to play lacrosse, and story time with Indigenous children’s author Lisa Lewis.
The free, family-friendly evening event started with a traditional welcome by Tsleil-Waututh Nation member Carleen Thomas. Bob Baker and Spakwus Slolem (translated as “Eagle Song Dancers”) of the Squamish Nation performed traditional Coast Salish singing, dancing and drumming. Dallas Yellowfly of the Siksika First Nation entertained with his comedic antics, inviting audience members to get on stage with him to tell the story of the Raven Steals the Sun. Finally, DJ Mukluk from Daka Dene (Wet’suwet’en) closed the event, mixing new beats and rhythms from the expanding world of Indigenous electronic music, with four-year dancer Aryon Jack performing on stage.
During the evening event, the public enjoyed face painting, art activities with Burnaby Art Gallery, the Burnaby Public Library’s Pop Up Library, and learning about local Indigenous history with Burnaby Village Museum staff member Carleen Thomas. Not to be missed was the delicious stew and bannock prepared by Lucas Noel of Spirit of the Children and Laura Ward’s family, and served by Burnaby Neighbourhood House volunteers. All in all, it was a great event on a beautiful sunny day that brought together a diverse cross-section of Burnaby residents. The organizers are committed to ensuring Burnaby’s National Aboriginal Day celebration becomes a regular annual event that helps strengthen community well-being through shared cultural experiences. See you next year on June 21st!