National Indigenous Peoples Day: June 21, 2019

June 17, 2019 | Danya Elsayed

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Tansi (Cree)! Boozoo (Ojibway)! Alo (Michif)! Sago (Mohawk)! Ullaqut (Inuktitut)! Hello!

For thousands of years, Indigenous Peoples have lived in the land that is known as Canada. Each group has its own distinct culture and history that is interwoven into this country. They include the First Nations, Métis, and Inuit (and there are many more bands within those groups).

To commemorate the rich history, unique culture and diverse contributions of Indigenous Peoples, National Aboriginal Day was created in 1996 by then Governor General Roméo LeBlanc after a push from several Indigenous groups. It was later renamed National Indigenous Peoples Day (NIPD) in 2017 by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. The holiday is celebrated each year on June 21.

Promotional banner for NIPD

Here are a few ways you can celebrate NIPD:

Attend an Event

Fort York National Historic Site will be holding an Indigenous Arts Festival from June 18-23. The festival will feature Indigenous storytelling, theatre performances, live music, dance, craft-making and food. Admission is free.

The City of Toronto has an annual Sunrise Ceremony at Nathan Phillips Square at 5:30 am on June 21.

Na-Me-Res will also be holding their Annual Traditional Pow Wow on June 22, with the grand entry at 12 pm and a free concert at 6 pm. Come meet crafters and vendors, learn more about Indigenous culture and dance your heart away! If this is your first time attending a powwow, this guide written by the CBC might be helpful.

Toronto Public Library has several programs to celebrate NIPD. Join Anishinawbe singer/songwriter Aqua Nibii Waawaaskone for Indigenous Hand Drumming and Singing at Don Mills Branch on Saturday, June 29 from 3-4 pm. Call the branch to register. 

If you're looking for more ideas on how you can celebrate, the Government of Canada has put together a list of traditional and non-traditional ways to commemorate Indigenous Peoples on this holiday.


A great way of celebrating NIPD is to appreciate the efforts and achievements of Indigenous Peoples in Canada. Here are a few notable figures.

Jody Wilson-Raybould was Canada's first Indigenous Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada. Before that, she was a crown prosecutor in British Columbia and a Treaty Commissioner of the Assembly of First Nations. She sat on several boards, councils, and commissions to help protect the rights of Indigenous Peoples. She was the 2017 recipient of the Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business's Indigenous Women in Leadership Award.

Buffy Sainte-Marie is an award-winning singer/songwriter. She first rose to fame for her song Universal Soldier which symbolized the anti-Vietnam War movement. Since then, she has released over a dozen albums and continues to use her music to advocate for Indigenous Peoples. She was inducted to the Canadian Music Hall of Fame in 1995 and is an Officer in the Order of Canada.

Alanis Obomsawin

Alanis Obomsawin is an Indigenous filmmaker, singer, and activist. She began her career as a singer in the 60s and moved on to become a filmmaker, capturing the realities of Indigenous communities. Obomsawin has created more than 50 documentaries, her most well known being Kanehsatake: 270 Years of Resistance.

Learn More

2019 is the International Year of Indigenous Languages. Through the colonization of Indigenous Peoples, many have lost their ability to speak their cultural language. There is a movement to restore the languages that have been lost. Here is an education tool that lists some common phrases in some Indigenous languages (PDF).

Toronto is situated on the traditional territory of the Mississaugas of the Credit, the Anishnabeg, the Chippewa, the Haudenosaunee and the Wendat peoples. Through the Dish With One Spoon treaty that was signed in the 1700s, an agreement was made to share and protect the land. If you'd like to know more about the land you are situated on visit Whose Land.

Library Materials By and About Indigenous Peoples

Indian Horse, Richard Wagamese

Indian Horse by Richard Wagamese.

Medicine Walk, Richard Wagamese

Medicine Walk by Richard Wagamese.

Split Tooth  Tanya Tagaq

Split Tooth by Tanya Tagaq.

Seven fallen feathers  racism  death  and hard truths in a northern city

Seven Fallen Feathers by Tanya Talaga.

Moon of the Crusted Snow, Waubgeshig Rice

Moon of the Crusted Snow by Waubgeshig Rice.

The Reason You Walk, Wab Kinew

The Reason You Walk by Wab Kinew.

Secret Path, Gord Downie and Jeff Lemire

The Secret Path by Gord Downie and Jeff Lemire.

Tunirrusiangit: Kenojuak Ashevak and Tim Pitsiulak

Tunirrusiangit by Kenojuak Ashevak and Tim Pitsiulak.

Medicine Songs  Buffy Sainte Marie

Medicine Songs (CD) by Buffy Sainte-Marie.

Mamaqtuq!  Jerry Cans

Mamaqtuq! by The Jerry Cans and Eric Kim.

Further Reading

How will you be spending NIPD? Comment down below!

Mikwec (Cree)! Miigwech (Ojibway)! Marsi (Michif)! Nia:wen (Mohawk)! Naqumik (Inuktitut)! Thank you!