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National Indigenous People's Day

Written by Mat Whitelaw - June 19, 2023

The summer solstice is more than the longest day of the year, June 21st is National Indigenous Peoples Day, and we’re here to talk about the history of this important day. 

The month of June celebrates the history of Indigenous Peoples, but the 21st, which is the summer solstice, recognizes the culture and contributions of Canada’s First Nations, Inuit, and Métis Peoples. 

Join us as we explore the legacy and resources that are important to this day.


The Origins of the Day

The Indigenous peoples of Canada have long been under-recognized for their contributions to the development of our country and the importance of their cultural heritage. The strength of their communities and the value of their traditional knowledge has led them as stewards of this land. 

Through the 20th century, there were calls for a day of celebration. With the guidance of Jules Sioui and chiefs across North America, they took the first step by self-declaring June 21st Indian Day in 1945. 


Over the next half-century, there would be calls for an official day by groups like the Assembly of First Nations, the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples, and The Sacred Assembly. In 1996, the Governor General, Romeo LeBlanc, proclaimed June 21st the annual celebration of National Aboriginal Day. 

The day has been recognized as a statutory holiday in the Northwest Territories since 2001 and in the Yukon since 2017. 

This day of recognition and celebration has taken many forms and has a number of names. The names we use for people are important and must correspond with how people wish to be referred. 

So, on June 21st, 2017, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced his support for renaming the event National Indigenous Peoples Day, something the Indigenous community supports.

Today, we continue to support the Indigenous peoples of Canada and cherish our close partnership with the Inuit community. 

To learn more about National Indigenous Peoples Day and National Indigenous History Month, click here

If you want to explore the story of Nunavut becoming its own territory and leadership of the Inuit community, click here