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.
June 21st is the summer solstice, the longest day of the year and a traditional time for Indigenous Peoples to come together to celebrate their heritage and culture. June 21st is also recognized as National Indigenous Peoples Day in Canada; a special day to honour the diverse cultures and unique heritage of First Nations, Métis and Inuit Peoples. Indigenous Nations across Canada will be celebrating in style and you’re invited to join in!
Can’t make it to an event? Join us online for #CanadaChat, we’ll be hosting on Twitter in English and French with Destination Canada and their partners, talking about exciting Indigenous Tourism experiences in Canada, and answering your questions. Find us @ExploreCanada and @ExplorezSansFin, and don’t forget the hashtag!
Busy on the 21st? The APTN has you covered! On Saturday 23rd June APTN will be hosting Indigenous Day Live in three cities: Winnipeg, Toronto, and Ottawa! All Canadians are invited to join in the fun free day celebrations and activities, as well as a live concert – on-location via a live five-hour TV broadcast, via participating radio stations and online.
Whether it’s a pow wow, festival or cultural community event, there are plenty of ways to celebrate Indigenous Peoples Day in BC. Check out the full list here. If you love electro music you can dance to the sounds of the Godfather of Powwowstep, DJ Shrub, a member of the Six Nations of the Grand River, at the Quaaout Lodge celebrations hosted by Little Shuswap Lake Indian Band. Along with cultural activities and workshops, there are also performances from the Secwepemc Youth Drummers, talented ‘Queen of the Loops’ Mihirangi, a Maori artist from Auckland, and a fireworks finale!
Alberta has it covered for exciting Indigenous Peoples Day events! Be inspired by modern Indigenous Cultures at Arts Commons in Calgary who are hosting a free all-ages mini pow wow in partnership with Sled Island, IRIM (Indigenous Resilience in Music) and Drum Beat. Tap your toes to traditional drumming, song and dance performances, make new friends at a meet and greet, then join in a workshop and mini-performance with Hip-Hop duos Snotty Nose Rez Kids and Mob Bounce. Plus a selection of films from imagineNATIVE – the world’s largest presenter of Indigenous film.
Look out for Métis and First Nations celebrations all across the prairies. Find an event in Manitoba here—don’t forget that the APTN will be live all day from Winnipeg. Over in Regina, there’s an all-day free event at City Square Plaza featuring pow wow dancers, spoken word artists, hip hop performers and storytellers. The day starts with a traditional pipe ceremony and tipi raising, bannock and cake will be served, and there will be plenty of crafts on sale from local Indigenous artisans. Clap your hands to Métis jiggers and fiddlers, and end the day with a round dance, an inclusive dance that crosses all cultural lines.
There are, of course, parades, festivals, and pow wows in Ottawa and Toronto, but if you want to celebrate Indigenous Peoples Day in nature, Anicinabe Park in Kenora is the place to be. The Ne-Chee Friendship Centre is hosting a terrific event with live music including Juno nominated The Jerry Cans, and Métis children’s’ entertainer TiBert le Voyageur. Come early for a free pancake breakfast; honour the past with cultural demonstrations; learn more about the nation to nation relationships between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples in Canada with a KAIROS blanket workshop, and end the day dancing to live music.
Atlantic Canada has a rich raft of Indigenous Peoples including Mi’kmaq, Inuit, and Innu. Learn more about these vibrant cultures in Indigenous Peoples Day celebrations across New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and Prince Edward Island. Join the Qualipu (pronounced: ha-lee-boo, meaning: Caribou) Mi’kmaq First Nation in Newfoundland for a traditional Indigenous Peoples Day celebration with the St. George’s Indian Band. The day starts at 6 am with a Sunrise Ceremony and then a community breakfast. Take a spirit walk on Steel Mountain and then head to the Ktaqmkuk Mi’kmaq Museum to learn more about the Mi’kmaq people to K’Taqmkuk (Newfoundland).
The Yukon is blessed with 14 different First Nations, each with their own history, culture and stories to tell. Whitehorse’s Kwanlin Dun Cultural Centre is hosting an all-day event with a delicious Solstice Feast of stew and bannock for all, and a competitive bannock bake-off! The main stage will play host to live entertainment including performances from Rising Sun Singers, and Selkirk Spirit Dancers. Take part in a jigging contest; learn to play hand games; watch a moose hide tanning demonstration, and discover a fast-paced world of Arctic sports with the Yukon Aboriginal Sports Circle.
North West Territories
Things are going to get delicious for National Indigenous Peoples Day in Yellowknife because the North Slave Métis Alliance is hosting a free fish fry at the Somba K’e Civic Plaza from midday till 5 pm. Join local Yellowknifers and visitors for a taste of Indigenous Cultures with a stage show, demonstration of songs and dances, as well tasty Great Slave Lake whitefish, corn on the cob, bannock, and beans!