Skip to content

Entertainment, food at National Indigenous Peoples Day celebration in Chemainus

Full program of music, vendor tables and much more included
Waterwheel Park is the place to be next Wednesday, June 21 for the National Indigenous Peoples Day celebration. (Photo by Don Bodger)

An impressive array of entertainment has been lined up for the National Indigenous Peoples Day celebration in Chemainus next Wednesday, June 21 at Waterwheel Park.

There will also be vendors with baking, beading, knitting, Ray Charlie’s book and signing, raffle table and more for what’s being billed as the Salish Sea Solstice from 11 a.m.-4 p.m.

Connie Crocker has been working with the Chemainus Valley Cultural Arts Society on the planning.

“This includes a new addition which is the Penelakut Mustimuxh Drum and Dance Group,” she pointed out. “This group is comprised of Penelakut members and the chief of the group is Patrick (Xwaluputhut) Aleck. They are practicing now for their performance on June 21st and hope to raise some funds to participate in the Tribal Journey going on this summer.

Five all-Nations canoes depart from Shell Beach on July 20.

“It’s a group effort and we hope to see this drum and dance group do a paddle to Muckleshoot,” added Crocker. “This is what we’re fundraising for is for the paddle to Muckleshoot.”

The Drum & Dance Group is known as the ‘Smut’uqsun Smune’ems’ and will have its first performance during National Indigenous Peoples Day.

The group has strong family ties and cultural values resonate deep. Beloved elder Florence James is their auntie, as well as Crocker. Marguerit James (nee Crocker) is their grandma, teacher and song creator utilizing the Hul’qumi’num language. Their mom Lorelei has a loving way that makes them who they are.

“The goal of the Smut’uqsun Smune’ems group is to bring our songs to light,” noted Kellie Aleck. “We want to take our power back in the most humble and kindest way possible. We would love to share the sacred songs and dances with the world.”

Food, of course, is always part of festivities like this.

“We’re having salmon this year and we have a local First Nations caterer that’s going to do a good job,” said Crocker.

The entertainment program begins with Nate Harris, a singer/songwriter from Stz’uminus, at 11 a.m. followed by Salish Sea food from Barnes and Maracle, Sarah and Star with a serving of salmon, pasta salad, bannock and blackberry dessert at noon.

John James is the master of ceremonies and Florence James will do the official opening prayer at 12:15 p.m., with a welcome from North Cowichan Mayor Rob Douglas at 12:30.

Dion Daniels will be at a meet and greet at the nearby Rainforest Arts gallery with an exhibition of his works from 1-3 p.m.

At 1 p.m., the new drum and dance program will perform followed by Cowichan Tribes blues singer Aidan Thorne at 2 p.m. The legendary multi-instrumentalist, singer-songwriter and story-teller Ed Peekeekoot takes the stage at 3.

The community is encouraged to join the celebrations.

“Hopefully, we get some good weather,” said Crocker.

She added there’s also going to be a banner at the nearby Chemainus Library that’s 18-feet long and displays the names of the known dead from the former Kuper Island Industrial School.


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

These seats will be filled for the National Indigenous Peoples Day celebration next Wednesday at Waterwheel Park. (File photo by Don Bodger)
The entertainment lineup for June 21.

Don Bodger

About the Author: Don Bodger

I've been a part of the newspaper industry since 1980 when I began on a part-time basis covering sports for the Ladysmith-Chemainus Chronicle.
Read more