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 celebrate 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 celebrated 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 as we navigate COVID-19 measures. 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 celebrate National Indigenous Peoples Day…some take as little time as 3 minutes! (So there’ll be plenty of time to spend with your Dads.)
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 — bring your face masks to Olympic Plaza to participate in a dialogue about truth and reconciliation in the face of Black Lives Matter and recent events affecting Indigenous people in Canada. 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. The Summer Solstice Indigenous Festival — the much-beloved Summer Solstice Festival in Ottawa has chosen to support Indigenous performers and virtual Pow Wows! TAKE A LOOK AT THE LINE-UP HERE
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. The Grizzlies (2018) — in Kugluktuk, Nunavut, a team of young lacrosse players use sport to transform their lives. While this film has received criticism of perpetuating a white savior narrative, it’s still a lot of fun. 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. Lumaajuuq (2010) — this stunning animated short adapts the Inuit legend of The Blind Boy and the Loon. Cruel, heartbreaking, and totally gorgeous. WATCH FOR FREE AT THIS LINK
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. Shop the books at the Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Centre gift shop! BROWSE NOW
9. The Marrow Thieves by Cherie Dimaline BUY IT HERE
10. Song of a Trickster by Eden Robinson BUY IT HERE
11. Elizabeth Dances Pow Wow by Elaine McArthur, illustrated by Olha Melnyk 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 — after you watch their live performance, 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 when they reopen on June 26.
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!