June 21 is National Indigenous Peoples Day  and we’re thrilled to be marking this occasion on SkyTrain with voice announcements.
The voice belongs to Dwayne Cunningham, a TransLink staffer and member of the Katzie First Nation, whose traditional territories are along Fraser River near Port Hammond in Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows.
Dwayne spent his teenage years living on the Katzie Indian Reserve and remains active in the community today, visiting his extended family at least once a month.
He says Indigenous cultures like the Katzie can feel distant, but there are vibrant communities throughout British Columbia and across Canada – all doing historically interesting and exciting things. Everything from pow wow dances to participating in Native fisheries throughout the summer.
“Indigenous culture can feel distant or other cultures aren’t invited into those places or things, but those doors are open,” says Dwayne. “It’s just do people want to come in?”
“I think National Indigenous Peoples Day might be that opportunity to open that door a little bit and just kind of look in and see what that culture has been about, what it is about and where it’s headed.”
That’s Dwayne’s message to transit riders in the voice announcement.
He invites transit riders to visit translink.ca  to see what National Indigenous Peoples Day events are happening in their community  and learn how to take transit to get there.
And that’s ultimately what National Indigenous Peoples Day is about – it’s an opportunity to celebrate and learn more about the cultural diversity of the First Nations, Inuit, and Métis peoples.
While these groups have similarities, each group has some distinct differences that make them unique through cultural practice, languages and more.
Dwayne challenges everyone to make a concerted effort to understand where Canada comes from and what Canada even is.
“You often hear people say Canada has no culture of its own or Canadian cuisine isn’t a thing,” he says. “But we just haven’t taken a moment to investigate it.
“Salmon is absolutely British Columbian. That is Native cuisine and that is in my mind Canadian cuisine.
“Hopefully that will spark some pride in the cool nation that we live in.”
The voice announcements play at all Canada Line stations, select Expo and Millennium Line stations, and onboard Expo Line trains travelling between Commercial–Broadway and Main Street–Science World stations through June 22.
Author: Allen Tung