National Indigenous Peoples Day

We acknowledge we are situated on the traditional, ancestral, and unceded territories of the Coast Salish Peoples, including the Semiahma (Semiahmoo), q̓ʷɑ:n̓ƛ̓ən̓ (Kwantlen), and q̓ic̓əy̓ (Katzie) land-based nations.

This year marks the 25th anniversary of National Indigenous Peoples Day.  June 21 holds importance for many First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples and communities as a day of celebrating their culture and heritage, because of the significance of the summer solstice for their communities.

Surrey’s National Indigenous Peoples Day virtual celebration will take place on Monday, June 21 at 6:00 pm, with a children’s show at 10:50 am.  The virtual broadcast will include cultural sharing from Semiahmoo, Kwantlen, Katzie First Nations, and Nova Métis with teachings and practice through art, music, storytelling and dance. Performers this year include The Wild Moccasin Dancers (Shyama-Priya and David Whitebean), Stars of the North Drum Group (LaDonna Wiks-Joseph name by Wata), XiQuelem (Eugene Harry), Brown Bear Woman (Candace Hill Trevena), JB the First Lady (Nuxalk and Onondaga Nation), and Madelaine McCallum (Sukaskieskwew).

Hosted by the Local Land Based Nations, Semiahmoo, Kwantlen and Katzie First Nations, Surrey’s National Indigenous Peoples Day is an opportunity to acknowledge and show respect and admiration for Indigenous People past, present and future; to share cultural history; and to share spirit, experiences, stories, song, art and dance with each other and the community.

You can view this year’s National Indigenous Peoples Day virtual celebration at facebook.com/FRAFCA and YouTube.

Many of Surrey’s public art installations have been created by artists with Indigenous cultural heritage, and we encourage you to spend some time visiting the art pieces and learning about their significance and importance to the artists. 

The Rivers that Connect Us is a stunning installation made up of five-metre-tall, illuminated paddles raised to the sky, which welcome visitors to the Museum of Surrey. Created by artists, Drew Atkins, Phyllis Atkins and Aaron Jordan, the welcoming gesture honours the diversity of newcomers arriving in Surrey and the traditional lands of the Coast Salish peoples.

Talking Poles, created by artists, Lorna Boschman, Victoria Moulder, and T’Uy’Tanat-Cease Wyss is located on both sides of 68th Ave at the Serpentine Greenway and was also designed to welcome newcomers. The two poles stand 4.2 metres tall and are emblazoned with symbolic imagery and words denoting “peace” and “love” respectively, in languages used throughout the Newton community — Arabic, Chinese, Spanish, Hindi, Korean, Punjabi, French and English.

The Water Guardians sculpture at Hazelgrove Park is a vibrant red umbrella sculpture by Susan Point featuring Coast Salish-style frogs. Point’s use of the smiling frogs and tadpole motifs reflect the continuance of life and transformation from small beginnings. The overall design of the sculpture responds to the design of the park, which features a water play area, a Metro Vancouver water reservoir and city pump station, and an open vegetated channel designed to naturally cleanse and filter stormwater runoff.

We Are All Connected to This Land features 3 salmon — male, female & two-spirited, a sun, eagle, moon and a wolf. Designed by artist Phyllis Atkins, the wolf represents the teacher and guide of the Kwantlen People, while the eagle flying closest to the sun is carrying prayers to the Creator. The inclusion of Grandfather Sun and Grandmother Moon contrasts day and night and indicates the passage of time.  This project is one of a series of initiatives by the City of Surrey to include visual representations of reconciliation on civic facilities and infrastructure. 

For all of the Indigenous artworks in the City of Surrey, visit the city website and plan a walking or biking adventure to visit and reflect.