This blog post was written before the start of the COVID-19 pandemic when physical distancing and other COVID health and safety protocols were not in effect. The businesses and communities featured in this article may be once again welcoming visitors but please double check as some are only open with limited operations and others have not yet reopened.
Here is a list of some of the great Indigenous festivals and events happening across Canada this summer.
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Indigenous Events in Canada
Manito Ahbee Festival May 16-20, 2018 in Winnipeg, Manitoba
Manito Ahbee Festival celebrates Indigenous arts, culture, and music in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. The 13th annual festival is May 16-20, 2018 and features the Indigenous Music Awards, International Pow Wow, Indigenous Music Conference, Casinos of Winnipeg Indigenous Marketplace and Trade Show, Getting Jiggy With It, Art Expo, Art Challenge, and MTS Youth Education Day.
Aboriginal Music Week * June 14-17, 2018 in Winnipeg, Manitoba
Aboriginal Music Week is a music festival in Winnipeg, Manitoba which presents Indigenous artists from around the world who perform hip hop, electronic, traditional, world, folk, rock, country and blues music. *This year, AMW is relaunching under a new name, and has confirmed its dates in June 2018.
National Indigenous Peoples Day June 21, 2018 in various locations across Canada
National Indigenous Peoples Day is a day to recognize and celebrate the cultures and contributions of Indigenous peoples from across Canada. The day was first celebrated in 1996 as National Aboriginal Day, and was renamed in 2017. There are festivals, events, celebrations and ceremonies which take place across Canada to mark the occasion. Check local calendars for more info.
Summer Solstice Indigenous Festival June 21-24, 2018 in Ottawa, Ontario
The Summer Solstice Indigenous Festival is a family-oriented multi-disciplinary arts festival that attracts over 40,000 visitors a year. This event truly represents the cultural diversity of the urban Indigenous community around Ottawa, with full participation of First Nations, Métis and Inuit artists. The diversity of cultures is reflected in all elements of the event, from leadership to the selection of artists representing each of the Indigenous communities.
Victoria Indigenous Cultural Festival June, 2018 in Victoria, BC
The Songhees and Esquimalt Nations celebrate National Indigenous Peoples day with a weekend of dance, music, food and the arts, and best of all – it’s free!
Aboriginal Day Live June 23, 2018 in Toronto, Ontario & Winnipeg, Manitoba
The Aboriginal Peoples Television Network celebrates each year on National Indigenous Peoples Day with a live television broadcast and concert series in multiple locations around Canada. All are welcome to attend the celebration in person, or to watch on TV, for celebrations, activities and live music.
Adäka Cultural Festival June 29 – July 5, 2018 in Whitehorse, Yukon
At its idyllic location at the Kwanlin Dün Cultural Centre on the Whitehorse waterfront, the Adäka Cultural Festival shines with awesome energy, arousing inspiration, pride, and excitement in the thousands of artists, visitors, and supporters who attend the Festival each year. Adäka means “coming into the light” in the Southern Tutchone language. The Festival is committed to shining a light on the creative spirit of Yukon First Nations people, helping to preserve and revitalize our arts and culture, while inspiring artists and youth to take pride in their heritage and communities.
Alianait Arts Festival Late June, 2018 in Iqaluit, Nunavut
Known as the world’s circumpolar stage, the Alianait Arts Festival takes place in Iqaluit, Nunavut, Canada in late June each year. These arctic days have 24-hour sunlight, a time of great celebration! Alianait sets the spotlight on Inuit and other circumpolar artists while bringing together exciting world-class musicians, circus acrobats, dancers, storytellers, actors, filmmakers and visual artists from across the globe.
Indian Village at the Calgary Stampede July 6-15, 2018 in Calgary, Alberta
For more than 105 years, the First Nations of Treaty 7 have camped at the Calgary Stampede. In 1912, First Nation peoples were not allowed to celebrate their own culture because of oppressive laws in Canada. For more than 50 years, the Calgary Stampede was the only place in Alberta where Indigenous people could gather and practice culture, celebrate community and express their traditions publicly. Today, the original families continue to meet at the Calgary stampede each year and present their history, culture and traditions to visitors from around the world.
Great Northern Arts Festival July 13-22, 2018 in Inuvik, NWT
Given the remote locations of most Northern communities, it is vital that artists be given the opportunity to access markets and buyers, as well as attend professional development workshops and seminars. To help accomplish this goal, the Great Northern Arts Society offers workshops and seminars on pricing, marketing, creativity, funding sourcing and grant-writing, artistic integrity, artist biography writing, and many other educational subjects. At the Festival, to promote the art actually created by Northern artists, we show as vast an array of artwork as possible, in medium, technique, and inspiration.
Back to Batoche Days July 19 – 22, 2018 in Batoche, Saskatchewan
Chuckwagon and chariot races; jigging, horseshoe, and bannock competitions; as well as a variety of artisan goods and crafts. Special programming and activities will be available at both the Batoche National Historic Site, and the Back to Batoche Festival Grounds located 1km north of Batoche.
Moosehide Gathering July 26-29, 2018 in Dawson City, Yukon
The Moosehide Gathering is a biennial summer event founded in 1993 by a group of dedicated Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in (Hän) people who wanted to celebrate their cultural traditions. It is an inclusive event that brings together people from across Canada as well as Alaska and beyond. Come share in Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in and other Indigenous culture – enjoy performances, guest speakers, feasts, dancing, drumming, singing and more. Artisans among you are invited to bring arts and crafts; musicians are encouraged to bring instruments. Catch up with old friends and make new friends. Everyone is welcome at Moosehide Gathering 2018.
Treaty & York Boat Days July 31 – August 5, 2018 in Norway House, Manitoba
Held since 1973, Treaty and York Boat Days is an annual summer festival hosted by the Norway House Cree Nation. The event commemorates the community’s history during the time of the fur trade and emphasizes family and cultural values.
Innu Nikamu Festival August 2-5, 2018 in Mani-Utenam, Quebec
The Innu Nikamu Festival is a major cultural event that brings together indigenous and non-indigenous artists from across the continent in Mani-Utenam, on a large and vibrant outdoor stage.
From August 2nd to 5th, 2018, musicians, performers, composers, dancers, storytellers, rappers and elders will accompany each other, accompanied by a traditional drummer, in front of a conquered audience of several thousand festival-goers.
Long Plain Pow Wow August 3-5, 2018 in Long Plain First Nation, Manitoba
The Long Plain pow wow began in 1876 and is one of Manitoba largest, and longest-running pow wows. Long Plain Pow Wow takes place every August long weekend and contest runs from Friday evening to Sunday afternoon.
Kamloopa Pow Wow August 5-7, 2018 in Kamloops, British Columbia
The Kamloopa Powwow is one of the largest celebrations of First Nations’ culture and heritage in Western Canada, and is a vibrant display of storytelling, song, and dance in traditional regalia. The Powwow represents many years of stories and events from previous years packed into three exciting days at the Secwepemc Powwow Grounds located 2 minutes from the city centre, alongside the South Thompson River in Kamloops.
Montreal First Peoples Festival August 8-15, 2018 in Montreal, Quebec
The Montreal First Peoples Festival is a multi-disciplinary, multi-sensory experience celebrating 11 different Indigenous nations from around Quebec. For a week, a myriad of events from music to dance, from film, to art, and from poetry to electro, the Place des festivals in downtown Montreal is transformed into a full cultural immersion of the First Peoples.
Akwesasne Pow Wow September 8-9, 2018 in Cornwall Island, Ontario
The Akwesasne International Pow-Wow is held annually in September on the weekend immediately following Labor Day, at the A’nowara’ko:wa Arena on Cornwall Island, Ontario. On the shores by the beautiful St. Lawrence River, visitors can enjoy a two day event with good music, good food and good company. The Akwesasne Pow-Wow brings together the best Native artisans, drummers and dancers from this region.
imagineNATIVE Film + Media Arts Festival October 2018 in Toronto, Ontario
imagineNATIVE is the world’s largest presenter of Indigenous screen content. The organisation is recognised locally, nationally, and internationally for excellence and innovation in programming and as the global centre for Indigenous media arts. imagineNATIVE (legal entity: The Centre for Aboriginal Media) is a registered charity committed to creating a greater understanding of Indigenous peoples and cultures through the presentation of contemporary Indigenous-made media art (film, video, audio and digital media).