FX Excursions

FX Excursions offers the chance for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in destinations around the world.

Victoria Celebrates National Indigenous History Month

by Aoife O’Riordan

Jun 22, 2022

© Courtesy, Destination Greater Victoria

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National Indigenous Peoples Day in Canada falls on June 21, but the celebrations continue throughout the rest of June to honor the rich culture of the indigenous peoples. Designated National Indigenous Peoples Month, June sees Canada’s countless destinations highlight the engaging cultures of First Nation People.

Quw-utsun’ Cultural Conference Centre in Duncan on Vancouver Island boasts stunning native arts and crafts. Owned and operated by the Cowichan Tribe, the largest Aboriginal band in British Columbia, the center lies on six acres of land along the banks of the Cowichan River, a designated British Columbia heritage river. At the center, visitors immerse themselves in unique experiences. The native heritage center shares stories and traditions of the Cowichan people from centuries ago.

In the summer months, visitors can also witness the creation of the famous Cowichan sweaters, featuring patterns reflecting the knitter’s family designs. The center also includes an open-air carving shed where visitors can watch native carvers work with handmade tools to craft traditional 12- to 20-foot totem poles, with each representing the carver’s interpretation of a tribal design.

Victoria

© Courtesy, Destination Greater Victoria

In the city of Victoria, Beacon Hill Park, considered a jewel of the city, comprises land known as Meeachan when it was first occupied by the Songhees, first called the Lekwungen. Look for the beautiful blue blossoms of the camas flower surrounding the area. Traditionally cultivated by the Lekwungen people, the camas flower went beyond the importance of food and trade for the tribe. The Lekwungen integrated the flower into harvesting, a seasonal social and cultural activity, as well as a time of reunion.

Further into Beacon Hill Park lies Story Pole, the world’s tallest free-standing totem pole. At more than 127 feet tall, a team led by Mungo Martin, Kwakiutl tribal chief and renowned carver, erected the Story Pole in 1956. The structure endures to this day for all to witness and admire.

Also in Victoria, Mark Loria Gallery represents First Nation artists. One of the leading galleries in the world for indigenous art, Mark Loria Gallery specializes in contemporary fine art from the northwest coast of Canada, displaying work from First Nation artists for the past 40 years. Mark Loria Gallery boasts one of the largest fine print collections and also displays paintings, carvings, sculptures, jewelry, ceramics and textiles. The gallery lies on the traditional territories of the Lekwungen-speaking Coast Salish peoples (Songhees and Esquimalt Nations).

Another gallery, Leaf Modern Gallery, came to fruition thanks to West Coast Kwakwaka’wakw artist Rande Cook and his partner and hands-on team. Leaf Modern Gallery focuses on indigenous contemporary art, celebrating the nature and art culture of the West Coast. In addition to galleries, other indigenous-owned businesses in Victoria include The Malahat Chalet, Moonwater Lodge and Indigenous Tourism BC.

Victoria

© Courtesy, Destination Greater Victoria

Visitors wanting to learn more about the culture of some of the indigenous peoples can head to Lekwungen Traditional Territory. The Songhees Nation welcomes all visitors to join them for meaningful experiences with their culture, traditions, hospitality and cuisine. At the Songhees Wellness Centre, people and traditions come together as one. From a journey out in a cultural canoe to a walking tour from the Inner Harbour, visitors can appreciate each aspect of the experience.

Throughout the territory, seven carvings lay scattered to mark places of cultural significance. Seeking out these markers means to learn about the land, its original culture and the spirit of its people, as well as respect the deep history of the people.

Have you visited any of these locations? Which site would you most like to visit? Tell us your thoughts. Email us at [email protected]. Please include your full name and location.

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FX Excursions

FX Excursions offers the chance for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in destinations around the world.

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