National Indigenous Peoples Day – June 21

National Indigenous Peoples Day is observed on June 21 in Canada.
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National Indigenous Peoples Day is observed on June 21 in Canada. Image Unsplash

Reading Time: 2 minutes

National Indigenous Peoples Day

National Indigenous Peoples Day is an annual celebration that takes place on June 21st to honour the unique heritage, diverse cultures, and outstanding contributions of First Nations people, Inuit, and Métis in Canada. The day officially began in Canada in 1996 and has since become an important event for highlighting the rich history, traditions, and contemporary issues facing Indigenous communities across the country.

The origins of National Indigenous Peoples Day go back to 1982, when the National Indian Brotherhood, a precursor to the Assembly of First Nations, called for the creation of a national holiday recognizing the contributions of Indigenous peoples in Canada. The idea was later championed by Indigenous leaders and communities across the country, and in 1996, the Canadian government officially declared June 21st as National Aboriginal Day.

In 2017, the name of the holiday was changed to National Indigenous Peoples Day, reflecting a broader recognition of the diversity of Indigenous cultures and identities in Canada.

National Indigenous Peoples Day provides an opportunity for all Canadians to learn about the history, traditions, and contributions of Indigenous peoples and to celebrate their ongoing resilience and cultural vitality. It is also an important day for honouring the work that still needs to be done toward reconciliation and justice for Indigenous peoples in Canada.

See also: Defenders of the Forest; Why Indigenous Groups are Protecting the World’s Largest Carbon Sink.

Across the country, events are held to mark National Indigenous Peoples Day, including powwows, concerts, educational workshops, and community gatherings. Through these events, Canadians can deepen their understanding of Indigenous cultures and histories and build relationships of solidarity and respect with Indigenous peoples.

How to celebrate:

  • Read a book from the Indigenous Reads list compiled by Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada.
  • Celebrate the summer solstice, a traditional celebration of the Indigenous heritage.
  • Try some traditional games and foods.
  • Watch a film from the National Film Board of Canada’s over 200 Indigenous-created movies catalogue.
  • Contribute to an Indigenous-led organization or charity.
  • Support Indigenous businesses and entrepreneurs in your own community.
  • Learn about whose land you are on, including researching local treaties.

Fun Facts:

  • More than 70 Indigenous languages were reported in Canada’s 2016 census.
  • The day’s events often include traditional feasts from each Indigenous People, festivals, dances, and the opportunity for people of all ages to learn about traditions, spiritual beliefs and culture.
  • 1,807,250 Indigenous Peoples live in Canada.
  • Over three in five Métis live in urban areas of at least 30,000 people
  • Close to three-quarters of Inuit live in Inuit Nunangat

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