Message from FPCF Board Chair on

National Indigenous Peoples Day

Today is National Indigenous Peoples Day, a special occasion for all Canadians to recognize and celebrate the rich and diverse languages, arts, cultures, voices, experiences, and unique heritage and histories of First Nations, Inuit, and Métis people from across the country. The June 21 date was selected for this national observance because it coincided with the summer solstice. For generations, many Indigenous people and communities in this country have celebrated their cultures and heritage on or near this day. 

I’m pleased to be celebrating this special day again as the Board Chair of the First Peoples’ Cultural Foundation. For more than 20 years, we’ve focused on supporting the vitality of Indigenous languages, arts, cultures, and heritage in B.C. Working closely with the 

First Peoples’ Cultural Council, we provide grant funding and resources to B.C. First Nations people, organizations, and communities that are rebuilding and restoring their cultural systems impacted by colonization. 

This year is the beginning of the United Nations International Decade of Indigenous Languages 2022 – 2032. Through this mechanism, we have the opportunity to draw global attention to the importance of Indigenous languages and to mobilize international cooperation efforts to strengthen and revitalize them. 

Here in Canada, the official launch of the Decade was led by Her Excellency the Right Honourable Mary Simon, Governor General of Canada, who kicked off the event in Ottawa with the sounds of her own Inuktitut language. At this celebration and other important events I’ve attended since, it was so inspiring to listen to young people who can express themselves in their own languages and heartening to hear their stories, songs, and journeys of their efforts to reclaim their cultures. Their songs represent the arts, their words are part of language, their stories are part of cultural heritage.

Her Excellency the Right Honourable Mary Simon, Governor General of Canada, spoke at the Canadian launch of the International Decade of Indigenous Languages at the Royal Canadian Geographical Society in Ottawa on April 22, 2022. Credit: Sgt Mathieu St-Amour, Rideau Hall

My vision for the year moving forward as we’re celebrating National Indigenous Peoples Day is that we’re able to listen to the sounds of Indigenous languages in music and stories, and that Indigenous Peoples feel encouraged to share their languages. Today, I would like to celebrate all people who are able to express their gratitude and their joy that they are continuing to thrive in their languages, their music, and in their own Indigenous expression. I hold up the important work that Indigenous people across British Columbia and the rest of the country are leading to reclaim and revitalize their traditional knowledge and ways of being for the benefit of future generations.

We also know that it takes significant effort, determination, and an emotional commitment for Indigenous people to actively document, practice, and hold onto our languages, arts, cultures, and heritage. This work is vital – and it needs to be strongly supported. 

If you want to contribute to Indigenous-led cultural revitalization efforts, please consider:

  • making a one-time donation to First Peoples’ Cultural Foundation
  • becoming a monthly donor to First Peoples’ Cultural Foundation 
  • increasing the amount of your current monthly donation to First Peoples’ Cultural Foundation by $5 or more
  • sharing the important work of First Peoples’ Cultural Foundation with your family and friends 

In addition, on this day, I encourage all Canadians to prioritize taking time to learn about, recognize, and appreciate Indigenous people in this country and their unique languages, arts, and cultures, and to see them as part of our shared heritage. The First Nations, Métis, and Inuit languages are the languages of the land in Canada, and every Canadian needs to know the languages of the land on which they live. 

If you would like to learn more about First Nations languages, arts, cultures, and heritage in B.C., we invite you to check out the First Peoples’ Map of B.C., an initiative of the First Peoples’ Cultural Council supported by our Foundation. 

I wish you all a happy National Indigenous Peoples Day. Please join me in celebrating the beauty and value of Indigenous languages, arts, cultures, and heritage today – and every day. 

Dr. Lorna Wánosts’a7 Williams, Chair
The First Peoples’ Cultural Foundation