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June 21st is National Indigenous Peoples Day in Canada!

The summer solstice welcomes harvesting season. It is a time to begin collecting the abundance of crops that have sprouted from the earth during the rains of spring. It is a time of celebration, which makes it the perfect time to celebrate Indigenous peoples in Canada. And with the diversity of hundreds of Indigenous communities across Turtle Island, there is so much to celebrate!  

The term Indigenous is a general term encompassing three distinct groups of people: First Nations, Inuit, and Métis. Let’s take a moment to introduce and honour the unique cultures of the First Nations, Inuit, and Métis communities in Canada.   

First Nations 

First Nations is also a general term, it refers to the over 630 First Nations communities in Canada who represent over 50 nations. Each nation holding its own culture, knowledge, and language. There are 50+ Indigenous languages in Canada, deriving from eight language families that are completely unrelated. Learn more about First Nations peoples by visiting The Assembly of First Nations website.  

Introduce Yourself to First Nations Languages: Indigenous Language Lessons by the Calgary Public Library 

Inuit 

The Inuit are Indigenous peoples originating from Inuit Nunangat, Inuit homeland. Inuit Nunangat has four regions: Inuvialuit (Northwest Territories and Yukon), Nunavik (Northern Quebec), Nunatsiavut (Labrador), and Nunavut. Inuktitut is the language spoken throughout Inuit Nunangat, however, there are many dialects. For example, people in Inuvialuit speak Inuvialuktun. Learn more by visiting the Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami website. 

A Story of Culture: Evan’s Drum by Ossie Michelin (Also available in Inuktitut!) 

Métis 

The term Métis refers to the distinct cultural identity that emerged from unions between First Nations peoples and early European settlers. Métis people hold their own unique history, culture, and language (Michif). Before the formation of Canada, Métis people lived off the land as hunters, gatherers, trappers and fishermen, travelling the land depending on the season. Due to the movement of their ancestors, Métis communities today are found across the country. Learn more about the history and culture of Métis peoples by visiting the Métis Nation Council (MNC) website. 

A Poem on the Métis Identity: “A Nation and Her Mother” performed by artist Janelle Wookey in 2021.  

What are some ways to celebrate National Indigenous Day? 

1. Attend the celebrations! There are events happening in-person and virtually across Turtle Island from June 17th to the 25th.  One not-to-miss events is the APTN Indigenous Day livestream celebration taking place virtually and in-person on June 18th, 2022.  Additional events can be found by accessing the Indigenous Peoples Day Map or by contacting your local friendship centre.  

2. Consume Indigenous media! There are multiple Indigenous magazines and news outlets focused on Indigenous current events, Indigenous music, and celebrating Indigenous leaders, entrepreneurs, and artists.  

3. Watch an Indigenous film! Access the National Film Board: Indigenous Cinema for free streaming of hundreds of Indigenous films.  

4. Learn! Take one of the open courses available on First Nations, Inuit, and Métis peoples offered online! 

5. Celebrate Indigenous artists, storytellers, community members, and businesses! 

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