Community News & Events

Indigenous Heritage Month

In June, we celebrate National Indigenous History Month, an opportunity that we all have to honour the heritage, contributions, and cultures of Indigenous peoples in Canada.

Celebrating National Indigenous History Month in June is an important tribute to the heritage and diversity of First Nation, Inuit and Métis communities across Canada. Recognizing the historic contributions that all Indigenous peoples made to the development of Canada, as well as the strength of present-day Indigenous communities and their promise for the future should make us proud of sharing our lives in their lands and will help us build more respectful relationships. We all have a role to play in our efforts towards finding truth, reconciliation, and inclusion of all peoples, National Indigenous History Month provides us with precious time to reflect and gain deeper appreciation of Indigenous heritage, values, and the common interests we share.

The Vancouver Asian Heritage Month Society understands and recognizes the past and present connections between Indigenous and Pan-Asian Communities and is proud of the mixed heritage that many Pan-Asian and Indigenous families share.

Two notable figures of Pan-Asian and Indigenous Heritage are Elder Howard E. Grant, and Elder Larry Grant who is also VAHMS patron.

Larry Grant, Musqueam Elder

Larry Grant, Musqueam Elder, was born and raised in Musqueam traditional territory by a traditional henqeminem speaking Musqueam family. After 4 decades as a tradesman, Larry enrolled in the First Nations Languages Program, which awoke his memory of the embedded value that the henqeminem language has to self-identity, kinship, culture, territory, and history prior to European contact. He is presently assisting in revitalizing henqeminem in the Musqueam Language and Culture Department and co-teaching the introductory henqeminem course through UBC.

Larry is the Elder-in-Residence at UBC’s First Nations House of Learning. He is a Faculty Fellow at St. John’s College, and the inaugural Honorary Life Fellow for Green College. In 2010, he received the Alumni Award of Distinction from Vancouver Community College, and in 2014, he became an Honorary Graduate from the Native Indian Teacher Education Program (NITEP) at UBC.

Howard E. Grant, Executive Director, FNS

Howard E. Grant was born and raised in the Musqueam community. He was one of the fortunate children who did not attend residential school, giving him the benefit of learning his culture, values, and teachings from his elders in his everyday life. Mr. Grant is his family’s cultural speaker and is a historian and cultural leader of his extended family. As a result of this, Howard was given the honour by the elders of his extended family to carry the name qiyeplen?xw. A name known and respected throughout Coast Salish territories.

Mr. Grant is currently the Executive Director of the First Nations Summit (FNS). FNS is comprised of a majority of First Nations and Tribal Councils in British Columbia (BC), providing a forum to address issues related to Aboriginal Title, Rights and Treaty negotiations as well as other issues of common concern.

Mr. Grant is also a long serving member of Council from his home community of Musqueam, whose traditional territory once occupied much of what is now Greater Vancouver and surrounding areas. The primary Musqueam Reserve, Musqueam I.R. #2, is located at the mouth of the Fraser River in Vancouver.

Mr. Grant was previously employed as the Executive Director of the Musqueam Indian Band from 1992-1997. He also held senior management positions with the federal government (Department of Indian and Northern Affairs Canada DIAND now AANDC) from 1984-1992.

Larry Grant: Intertwining Cultures, produced by CCS

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National Indigenous Peoples Day

June 21 is National Indigenous Peoples Day. This is a day for all Canadians to recognize and celebrate the unique heritage, diverse cultures and outstanding contributions of First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples. The Canadian Constitution recognizes these three groups as Aboriginal peoples, also known as Indigenous peoples.

Although these groups share many similarities, they each have their own distinct heritage, language, cultural practices, and spiritual beliefs.

In cooperation with Indigenous organizations, the Government of Canada chose June 21, the summer solstice, for National Aboriginal Day, now known as National Indigenous Peoples Day. For generations, many Indigenous peoples and communities have celebrated their culture and heritage on or near this day due to the significance of the summer solstice as the longest day of the year.

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