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6 Ways to Celebrate National Aboriginal Day

From powwows to arts festivals, here’s how to honour and get involved for Aboriginal Day

An Indigenous chief in bright beaded attire with a large feather headdress

June 21, 2017, marks the 21st annual National Aboriginal Day in Canada. In the spirit of reconciliation, here are six things you can do to celebrate the heritage, diverse cultures and outstanding contributions of First Nations, Inuit and Métis people.

A beautiful landscape of a lake with ducks swimming calmly at dusk

Learn the Land

As you travel across the country this summer, acknowledge and learn about the territories you pass through and the land you live on. There are many resources available online to help, such as the Native Land website and the First Nation Profiles interactive map.

A woman in traditional Indigenous costume dances onstage at the Indigenous Arts Festival

Celebrate Indigenous Culture in Canada

From June 21 to 25, dive deeper into Indigenous and Métis culture at the Indigenous Arts Festival at Fort York National Historic Site. Spend the day in Tkoronto (the Mohawk name for Toronto) with crafts for all ages, Indigenous performers and storytellers, including a special performance by Susan Aglukark—the renowned multi-Juno winning musician who blends traditional Inuk folk music with country and pop—at 6:45 p.m. on June 21.

 Two Indigenous men smile from behind the till at Nish Dish Marketeria in Toronto

Enjoy Indigenous Food

Have you ever tasted bison sausage or Three Sisters soup? These staples of Anishnawbe diets can now be found regularly on the menu of Nish Dish Marketeria, an exciting new Toronto foodie spot that focuses on traditional Native cuisine. Be sure to try the Mohawk roasted coffee, such as the cleverly named and tasty Anishnacano.

Educate Yourself on Reconciliation

To better understand the history of Canada, and in order to redress the legacy of residential schools, it’s important for us all to understand the cause. Empower yourself to join the conversation: read the recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Committee (TRC).


Attend a Powwow

On June 24, NA-ME-RES will host Toronto’s Annual Traditional Pow Wow in recognition of both National Aboriginal Day and the summer solstice. Everyone is invited to enjoy traditional foods, experience over 100 drummers and dancers performing in their regalia and meet First Nations artisans. Be sure to catch the grand entry at noon.

A crowd mills about the booths at Toronto's Annual Traditional Pow Wow event 

Buy Indigenous

Can’t attend an event in person on National Aboriginal Day? Be sure to support Indigenous businesses throughout the year. The Cedar Basket Gift Shop at the Native Canadian Centre of Toronto is the city’s only Indigenous-owned and -operated store. Here you can find a large selection of First Nation, Métis and Inuit handcrafted jewelry, carvings, baskets, beadwork, moccasins and unique, one-of-a-kind pieces.

If you want to catch what is happening across the country on National Aboriginal Day, you can watch AboriginalDayLive with APTN as they stream events and performances from across the country. Events are scheduled in Halifax, Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto, Winnipeg, Yellowknife, Edmonton and Vancouver.