Written by: Laura Golebiowski, Indigenous Heritage Section
June 21 is the summer solstice: the longest day of the year. It is a significant time for many Indigenous Peoples and Nations. As early as 1982, Indigenous organizations advocated for a national day to acknowledge their diverse histories, cultures and outstanding contributions. In 1995, June 21 was declared to be National Aboriginal Day—held annually and renamed National Indigenous Peoples Day in 2017.
National Indigenous Peoples Day is an invitation to all Canadians to celebrate with First Nation, Inuit and Métis Peoples, each distinctly recognized in the Canadian Constitution. Throughout the day, week, and month, there are numerous opportunities to connect and learn.
If you are located in Treaty 6 Territory, the Ministry of Indigenous Relations is hosting traditional and contemporary performances, including dancing, drumming, fiddling and jigging from 11:45 a.m. to 1:15 p.m. at Edmonton City Centre Mall. On the weekend, head to Enoch Cree Nation’s second annual Night Market, where Indigenous artisans, food vendors and entertainers will be set up at the River Cree. Or, travel east along the historic Victoria Trail for the fourth annual Alberta Métis Fest at Métis Crossing.
For those further south in Treaty 7 Territory, both Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump World Heritage Site and Áísínai’pi/Writing-on-Stone Provincial Park are offering events for visitors to learn more about the rich culture of the Blackfoot Confederacy.
Across what-is-now Alberta, Indigenous Tourism Alberta supports and showcases Indigenous tourism operators and experiences. Use their map and resources to find Indigenous-owned businesses and experiences to check out during your summer road trips and vacations!
A growing list of events throughout the province can be found here.
The Historic Resources Management Branch is privledged to work with and learn from Indigenous Peoples across Treaty 6, 7, 8, 4 and 10 territories. On June 21, we will take the time to recognize this privilege, to be grateful for our relations, and to remember that we are all Treaty people.