June 21, 2021
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What is National Indigenous Peoples Day?
June 21 is National Indigenous Peoples Day. This is a day for all Canadians to recognize and celebrate the unique heritage, diverse cultures and outstanding contributions of First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples. The Canadian Constitution recognizes these three groups as Aboriginal peoples, also known as Indigenous peoples.
Although these groups share many similarities, they each have their own distinct heritage, language, cultural practices and spiritual beliefs.
In cooperation with Indigenous organizations, the Government of Canada chose June 21, the summer solstice, for National Aboriginal Day, now known as National Indigenous Peoples Day. For generations, many Indigenous peoples and communities have celebrated their culture and heritage on or near this day due to the significance of the summer solstice as the longest day of the year.
In 2009, June was declared National Indigenous History Month, following the passing of a unanimous motion in the Canadian House of Commons. This provides an opportunity to recognize not only the historic contributions of Indigenous peoples to the development of Canada but also the strength of present-day Indigenous communities and their promise for the future.
Every June, Canadians celebrate National Indigenous History Month, which is an opportunity to honour the heritage, contributions and cultures of First Nation, Inuit and Métis communities across Canada. Canadians are also invited to celebrate National Indigenous Peoples Day on June 21st each year.
How do people celebrate National Indigenous Peoples Day?
Across Canada National Indigenous Peoples Day is marked by ceremonies and celebrations that highlight cultural performances and activities, displays of arts and crafts, and events that recognize the contributions of Indigenous peoples .
First Nations is a term used to describe Indigenous peoples in Canada who are not Métis or Inuit. First Nations people are original inhabitants of the land that is now Canada and were the first to encounter sustained European contact, settlement and trade.
There are 634 First Nations communities in Canada, speaking more than 50 distinct languages.
Métis are people of mixed European and Indigenous ancestry, and one of the three recognized Aboriginal peoples in Canada. The use of the term Métis is complex and has different historical and contemporary meanings.
The term is used to describe communities of mixed European and Indigenous descent across Canada, and a specific community of people — defined as the Métis Nation — which originated largely in Western Canada and emerged as a political force in the 19th century, radiating outwards from the Red River Settlement.
Inuit — Inuktitut for “the people” — are Indigenous people, the majority of whom inhabit the northern regions of Canada. An Inuit person is known as an Inuk.
The Inuit homeland is known as Inuit Nunangat, which refers to the land, water and ice contained in the Arctic region. Inuit maintain cultural identity through language, family and cultural laws, attitudes and behaviour, and through much-acclaimed Inuit art.