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Surrey Schools celebrates culture and history with National Indigenous People’s Day


Today is National Indigenous People’s Day, recognizing the heritage, diversity, culture and contributions of First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples across Canada.

Locally, the 26th-annual day is being celebrated in person and online in Surrey, with this afternoon’s National Indigenous People’s Day Celebration & Wellness Event at Holland Park, hosted by the Katzie, Kwantlen and Semiahmoo First Nations in partnership with the City of Surrey and numerous community organizations. The district currently has more than 3,200 Indigenous students in our schools.

“It’s an event to learn about the importance and significance of Indigenous culture and history, and to celebrate the achievements that Indigenous people have given to greater society,” said Juanita Coltman, district principal with the Aboriginal Learning department. “It’s to be proud of who they are and really showcase all the great, positive aspects of Indigenous people here in Surrey.”

The event will feature cultural performances and storytelling from local First Nations, including:

  • Nadine Gagné, provincial Métis early years program coordinator with Métis Nation BC
  • Elder Eugene Harry (XiQuelem) of the Cowichan Tribes
  • FRAFCA Elders and Youth
  • The Wild Moccasin Dancers (Shyama-Priya and David Whitebean)
  • Candace “Brown Bear Woman” Hill Trevena
  • Stars of the North Drum Group (LaDonna Wiks-Joseph name by Wata)
  • Métis Jigging by Madelaine McCallum (Sukaskieskwew)
  • Salish Thunderbird (Xwelmexw Shxwexwos)
  • JB the First Lady (Nuxalk and Onondaga Nation)

The event also has an online component for students, in the form of a 25-minute video to be shown in classrooms and assemblies as part of National Indigenous People’s Day. The video features a welcoming from Semiahmoo Chief Harley Chappell and a music video by students from Holly Elementary.

“Because we had such an awesome response last year to the online event, we decided to continue with that this year,” said Lyn Daniels, director of instruction with Aboriginal Learning. “What’s really exciting this year is we will also be able to gather in person and see each other. We kind of have the best of both worlds.”

Additionally, students from the district’s WRAP program painted a mural titled Stolen Sisters, unveiled today at King George Hub (Fraser Highway and King George Boulevard), in recognition of missing and murdered Indigenous women.

The Holland Park (13428 Old Yale Rd.) event is free and open to the public. Doors open at 3 p.m. and the event runs from 4 to 8 p.m., with the following schedule:

  • Welcome: 4:30 p.m.
  • Community BBQ: 5 to 7 p.m.
  • Closing: 7:30 p.m.

For more information, see Surrey’s National Indigenous People’s Day Celebration & Wellness Event page.

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