This post was originally published for National Indigenous People’s Day on the Zero Ceiling blog on June 21, 2020. We still think this is a great round-up of things you can do to learn more about and reflect on the history and current reality of Canada’s Indigenous Peoples. We have updated some of the listed activities, but check out the original post for even more things to do!
In the last twelve months, Canada has had to face a lot of truths about its treatment of Indigenous Canadians. Of course, this has only opened our eyes to the work still yet to be done — both on a national and personal scale.
That is why it is more important than ever that we don’t forget about National Indigenous Peoples Day in 2020 (not to be confused with the holiday that some US states have adopted to replace Columbus Day, called Indigenous Peoples’ Day)
What is National Indigenous Peoples Day?
Canada has had a Aboriginal Day every June 21 since 1995. Now known as National Indigenous Peoples Day, it is an opportunity for Canadians to recognize our Indigenous peoples.
“This is a day for all Canadians to recognize and celebrate the unique heritage, diverse cultures and outstanding contributions of First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples. The Canadian Constitution recognizes these three groups as Aboriginal peoples, also known as Indigenous peoples.” — Government of Canada
How Do We Celebrate National Indigenous Peoples Day?
In previous years, June 21 saw many communities participate with events, activities, and workshops.
This year, the celebrations will look a little different, because of the recent news that mass, unmarked graves have been found at former residential schools across Canada. However, Canada — and even the Sea to Sky Corridor — has some amazing First Nations, Inuit, and Métis artists, creators, businesses, and educators we can learn from and enjoy today and always.
Here are 18 ways we can use National Indigenous Peoples Day to learn and reflect…some take as little time as 3 minutes!
There are many events happening in our community over the next few days featuring some amazing Indigenous Canadian artists in our area. Here are some you can enjoy with the whole family while social distancing:
1. National Indigenous Peoples Day Vigil — “Join us online for a National Indigenous Peoples Day event and learn about Indigenous culture and the Downtown Eastside. The Carnegie Community Centre, in partnership with the UBC Learning Exchange and the City of Vancouver, is hosting the virtual event on June 21 from 12 to 2 p.m.” MORE INFO HERE
2. National Indigenous Peoples Day at the Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Centre — the SLCC has a slate of online events to fill your day with knowledge and celebration, from a live performance by award-winning local band The Spiritual Warriors, to workshops and virtual exhibits. FIND OUT WHAT’S HAPPENING
3. Arts Whistler Summer Spotlight — “Enjoy the story-telling art of Squamish Nation hereditary Chief Ian Campbell from 11am-5pm at the Maury Young Arts Centre.” LEARN MORE.
There are many great Canadian films, shorts, and TV shows that you can marathon this weekend. Here are just a few that might pique your interest:
4. Blood Quantum (2020) — In the mood for some summer gore? This Indigenous-made, award-winning zombie movie has it all, plus some amazing social commentary: “The dead are coming back to life outside the isolated Mi’gmaq reserve of Red Crow, except for its Indigenous inhabitants who are immune to the zombie plague. Traylor (Greyeyes), the tribal sheriff, must protect his son’s pregnant girlfriend, apocalyptic refugees, and reserve riffraff from the hordes of walking white corpses.” WATCH THE TRAILER
5. First Stories: Two Spirited (2007) — this 7 min short doc presents the story of a two-spirited jingle dancer and the prejudice they face in their community. WATCH HERE
6. Indigenous TikTok — there are many talented, hilarious, and educational Indigenous creators on the social media platform TikTok. If you’ve only got a few minutes, browse the #IndigenousTikTok tag and see what you can find. As of today, there are 281.1 million videos using that hashtag.
7. Foster Child (1987) — celebrated Metis film maker Gil Cardinal documents his personal journey to discover his birth family. This is a crucial piece of Canadian art, and you can find it for free online RIGHT HERE.
If you’re going to be spending any time with a good book this summer, why not add some Indigenous stories to your TBR? Bestsellers and Top-10 lists are everywhere, but we’ve listed a few not to miss:
8. From the Ashes by Jesse Thistle BUY IT HERE
9. Jonny Appleseed by Joshua Whitehead BUY IT HERE
10. Elatsoe by Darcie Little Badger BUY IT HERE
11. Seven Fallen Feathers: Racism, Death, and Hard Truths in a Northern City by Tanya Talaga BUY IT HERE
12. First Voices — learn some words in a local Indigenous language. While not every community uses First Voices, you can learn how to read and speak some words and phrases by fluent speakers HERE
From A Tribe Called Red to Buffy Saint Marie, Canadian music is full of Indigenous performers who’ll get your toes tapping this weekend. Here are some more musicians and podcasts you should add to your playlists ASAP:
13. The Spiritual Warriors — This band is from the Lil’wat Nation, and have been making music and releasing music for years. Go ahead and give their award-winning albums a listen RIGHT HERE
14. The Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Centre Ambassadors: Songs From our Nation — volumes 1, 2, and 3 are available on the SLCC web shop. Learn traditional hand-drummed songs from both the Squamish and Lil’wat Nations by ORDERING HERE or buy from the SLCC gift shop.
15. The Henceforward — this incredibly important podcast examines the relationship between Black Peoples and Indigenous peoples on Turtle Island. A must listen for everyone. TAKE A LOOK
17. Coffee with My Ma — the legendary model and activist, Kahentinetha Horn, recounts stories from her life with her daughter Kaniehtiio. Lots of laughs and wild adventures ensue. LISTEN NOW
18. Unreserved — from CBC Radio, Unreserved is the true voice of Indigenous Canada. DOWNLOAD YOUR FIRST EPISODE HERE
Hopefully there is enough new content to fill your National Indigenous Peoples Day. Let us know which of these you are most excited about below!