Excitement is building for Whistler’s big Vancouver Symphony Orchestra concerts to celebrate Canada Day and American Independence Day in early July but a lesser-known national celebration is set for June 21, the first official day of summer.
National Indigenous Peoples Day started in 1996 as a day recognizing and celebrating the cultures and contributions of Canada’s First Nations, Metis and Inuit peoples. Here in Whistler, the day’s festivities will take place at the Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Centre (SLCC), one of the finest Native Culture museums in the world.
“We want to celebrate the day and engage the community,” says SLCC events coordinator Justine Wallace. “So we are featuring some artists demonstrating traditional wool weaving and cedar carving, some kids crafts and activities and the falconry ‘Radical Raptors’ birds of prey presentation that will give people a chance to see real birds of prey up close.”
This is all on top of the regular SLCC programing that includes tours, traditional songs, short films and more. Free kids activities include bannock baking, rock painting and workshops to make paddle necklaces or obsidian arrowheads (Insider tip: Kids LOVE arrowheads). They can also pay $7-10 to craft mini-drums, animal hide rattles and medicine pouches.
“We also have two storytelling sessions planned for 11:30 AM and 2:30 PM,” Wallace says. “The 21st is an important day for many cultures because it is the start of summer and the changing of the seasons. Traditionally summertime was when our cultures would work the hardest to prepare for the next winter but it is always a special time of the year because everything is in abundance.”
National Indigenous Peoples Day flies under a lot of people’s radar but with a world class facility like the SLCC it’s definitely a good idea to officially kick off summer and learn a bit about the Sea to Sky’s original locals.
The Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Centre is open daily all year long and features local native artifacts and hands-on exhibits as well as ambassadors sharing stories and leading tours through their history in this area. For more details on Canada Day or anything else happening in town this summer hit up Whistler.com