By Anne Draper

Come celebrate national Aboriginal Day weekend, Friday June 17, Saturday June 18 and Sunday June 19, with the Songhees and Esquimalt Nations performing on the grounds of the Royal BC Museum from 11 am to 5 pm each day. The Victoria Aboriginal Cultural Festival is a free event featuring more than 25 performers from across BC.

Photos by trudy chiswell

Three time world champion, Alex Wells from Lil’wat Nation will perform daily. Competing and performing since the age of five at Powwows and across North America as a Professional Hoop Dancer: a form of storytelling dance incorporating anywhere from one to thirty or more hoops as props, the sole dancer dances the circle of life, representing various symbols - the butterfly, the eagle, the snake, the coyote - as his storytelling elements.

Host Nations: Lekwungen Traditional Dancers (Songhees Nation) and Esquimalt Singer and Dancers (Esquimalt Nation). La-la-La Dancers (Kwakwaka’ wakw Nation) Nuu-chah-nulth Dance Group (Nuu-chah-nulth Nation) Git Hayetsk (Haida, Haisla, Tuhitan, Tlingit, Lil’wat and Musqueam Nations) will perform on the main stage. A Totle Pole Tour is featured Saturday and Sunday at 11 am. An Artisan Village will be on site along with West Coast clam chowder, fry bread and BBQ sockeye salmon to tempt your taste buds.

National Aboriginal Day honours 20 years of contributions by First Nations, Inuit and Metis peoples. The Canadian Constitution recognizes these three groups as Aboriginal Peoples, also known as Indigenous Peoples. Although these three groups share may similarities, they each have their own distinct heritage, language, cultural practices and spiritual beliefs.    The Festival is created through a partnership between Aboriginal tourism BC, the Esquimalt Nation and Songhees Nation, the Royal BC Museum, Tourism Victoria, the Robert Bateman Centre, the Greater Victoria Harbour Authority and the Butchart Gardens. Aboriginalbc.com/Victoria-aboriginal-festival for complete schedule.