Four Fires Festival will bring back Indigenous canoe racing to False Creek
This weekend, Indigenous paddlers from up and down the B.C. coast and Washington state will compete in a free event with live music.
The Four Fires Festival takes place on Saturday (September 10) and Sunday (September 11) at Concord Community Park (50 Pacific Boulevard in Vancouver).
There will be about 25 races each day.
"It's the first time in over 100 years we've had Indigenous canoe races in False Creek," carver Mike Billy Sr. of Canoe Cultures said in a news release. "We're glad to be back."
Billy is from the Squamish Nation and captains the North Vancouver Canoe Club. He's co-organizer of the festival along with Musqueam Nation member Dickie Louis of the Celtic Sunset Canoe Club.
The festival plans to award a hand-built, six-man, Indigenous cedar strip canoe at the event. There will also be plenty of free entertainment on-site.
The main stage will feature George Leach, Neon Dreams, Sister Says, Tsatsu Stalkqayu - Coastal Wolf Pack, DJ Kory Roach, Burnstick, Spakwus Slolem - Eagle Song Dancers, the Wild Moccasin Dancers, Alex Wells, Rex Smallboy, Xwelmexw Shxwexwo:s - Salish Thunderbird, the Melawmen Collective, DJ Kookum, Sekawnee, Pat Calihou Band, and Tsleil-Waututh Warriors.
In addition, there will be an artisans market featuring the works of Indigenous designers, ranging from homewares to fashion to jewellery, art, and beauty products.
In 2017, there was a large gathering of canoes in False Creek during the City of Vancouver's Reconciliation Week, but there was no racing at that time.
The canoes came into this area as part of the city's Canada 150+ celebrations, which honoured the Indigenous heritage of the region.