June in Canada marks National Indigenous History Month, and June 21 is National Indigenous People’s Day. This is a time dedicated to recognizing and celebrating the diverse cultures, contributions, and struggles of Indigenous peoples across the country. This is a time for fostering awareness, promoting understanding, and advancing the essential processes of decolonization, truth, and reconciliation.

The Squamish (Skwxwú7mesh) and Tsleil-Waututh (səl̓ilw̓ətaʔɬ) First Nations, whose traditional territories encompass North and West Vancouver and surrounding areas in British Columbia, embody rich histories deeply intertwined with the land and waters of the Pacific Northwest.

For millennia, the Skwxwú7mesh and Tsleil-Waututh peoples thrived in the region from Howe Sound to Burrard Inlet, developing resilient cultures deeply connected to the land and sea. They honed fishing techniques and navigated the Salish Sea in cedar dugout canoes, developed sophisticated social structures and governance systems, and practiced cultural ceremonies affirming stewardship of the coastal and forest bounty.

Today, both nations actively uphold their traditions while addressing modern challenges. They champion economic initiatives that respect their ancestral lands, advocate for environmental conservation, and actively preserve and revitalize their languages and cultural practices. These efforts underscore their ongoing leadership in Indigenous rights, environmental advocacy, and cultural heritage preservation.

As we observe National Indigenous History Month, and National Indigenous Peoples Day, it is essential to celebrate Indigenous resilience and heritage while reaffirming our commitment to reconciliation. By promoting awareness, supporting decolonization efforts, and advancing truth and reconciliation processes, we can collectively strive towards a more just and inclusive Canada—one that honours the past while fostering a better future for all generations.

Resources to learn more:

National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation – a place of learning and dialogue where the truths of the residential school experience will be honoured and kept safe for future generations. https://nctr.ca/

Reconciliation Canada – facilitating meaningful engagements aimed at revitalizing relationships between Indigenous peoples and all Canadians. https://reconciliationcanada.ca/

Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada – Explore the history, languages, cultures, and experiences of Indigenous Peoples in Canada. https://www.rcaanc-cirnac.gc.ca/eng/1621447127773/1621447157184