International Day of the World's Indigenous Peoples 2020

August 6, 2020 | Hector

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370-500 million of the world’s human population are Indigenous peoples living on 22% of the global land area. Because of racism and colonization, Indigenous communities face:

  • marginalization
  • extreme poverty
  • other human rights violations
  • barriers to accessing health services.


In spite of this, Indigenous people are resilient and continue to fight for the well-being of their land and communities.

On December 23, 1994, the United Nations (UN) General Assembly declared August 9 the International Day of the World's Indigenous Peoples. This day was selected to commemorate the first meeting of the United Nations Working Group on Indigenous Populations. It was held on August 9, 1982. Each year the International Day of the World's Indigenous Peoples has a theme.

This year's theme is "COVID-19 and Indigenous peoples' resilience". The UN will host a virtual panel discussion to commemorate this day. It will be held on Monday, August 10 at 9am (EST). During the discussion, the panelists will highlight how the preservation of traditional knowledge and practices can help during this time and make the community stronger.

The UN aims to provide support to Indigenous communities working in a global forum to address issues that matter most to them. They also build awareness on the important role of Indigenous peoples and movements in sustaining the world's cultural and biological landscape.

As part of our Strategies for Indigenous Initiatives (PDF), Toronto Public Library works in partnership with Indigenous service providers. Together, we aim to provide services and spaces that are safe and welcoming for Indigenous community members. This is in large part with the help and expertise from the Indigenous Advisory Council (IAC). The IAC provides guidance and feedback on TPL's Indigenous initiatives.


Recommended Books

Learn more about Indigenous peoples' resilience and struggles, and don't forget to tune in to the virtual event on August 10.

Braiding legal orders

Braiding Legal Orders : Implementing the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples by John Borrows, Larry N. Chartrand, Oonagh E. Fitzgerald and Risa Schwartz.

Indigenous Rights

Indigenous Rights : Changes and Challenges for the 21st Century by Jo Samanta and Sarah Sargent.

Seven Fallen Feathers

Seven Fallen Feathers : Racism, Death, and Hard Truths in a Northern City by Tanya Talaga.

Loss of Indigenous Eden and the fall of spirituality

Loss of Indigenous Eden and the Fall of Spirituality by Blair Stonechild.

Reclaiming the Commons

Reclaiming the Commons : Biodiversity, Indigenous Knowledge, and the Rights of Mother Earth  by Vandana Shiva.


Additional Resources


Edited August 6, 6pm: Text revised for clarity and a few typos were removed.