National Indigenous Peoples Day – June 21

On Thursday, June 21, Canada celebrates National Indigenous Peoples Day. Since 1982, national Indigenous leaders and organizations called for the creation of a national holiday to celebrate the unique cultures and contributions of Indigenous peoples. In 1996 the National holiday was finally announced and named National Aboriginal Day. In 2017 the Prime Minister announced his intention to rename the day to National Indigenous Peoples Day (“Indigenous Peoples Day”).

Indigenous Peoples Day is a statutory holiday in the Northwest Territories and Yukon. Its designation as a statutory holiday across all of Canada is being sought in Georgina’s Jolibois private members Bill C 349 which would benefit employees working in the federally regulated private sector.  Its designation as a statutory holiday is an important aspect of Canada’s implementation of reconciliation with Canada’s Indigenous peoples.

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission presented a report, including 94 calls to action to redress the legacy of residential school and to advance the process of reconciliation. Canada committed to implementing the recommendations, including the call to action that urges our federal government, with Aboriginal peoples consultation, to establish a statutory holiday to honour survivors, their families, and communities to ensure public commemoration of the history and legacy of residential schools. To this end, the statutory holiday designation is being sought in Bill C 349. However, currently, most Canadians will have to facilitate celebrating Indigenous Peoples Day within their work schedules. It’s highly recommended that you take the opportunity to experience and participate in the cultural festivities celebrating Indigenous Peoples Day. It provides an opportunity for all Canadians to experience and embrace their local Indigenous cultures in a welcoming celebratory environment open to all. These gatherings are inclusive and will have attendees with a range of knowledge regarding Canada’s First Peoples. The festivities often include local unique Indigenous cultural activities such as singing, dancing and drumming.  There are also local expert artisans in beading, weaving, carving and ethnobotany. Experiencing your local Indigenous communities cultural sharing is a humbling and joyful experience for all ages.

Vancouver and Victoria have the following Indigenous Peoples Day celebrations, click below to find out more:

Vancouver, Aboriginal Friendship Centre – pancake breakfast and walk at 11 am to Trout Lake

Vancouver, Trout Lake – dance performances, canoeing, art displays, and cultural learning opportunities

Vancouver, Bill Reid Gallery – free admission to the art gallery

Victoria, Royal BC Museum – outside the grounds of the museum sets the stage for a three day cultural event packed full of local indigenous performances, learning sessions and opportunities to support local artisans