Since 1996, the Canadian government has designated June 21 as a time to recognize and celebrate the cultures and contributions of First Nations, Inuit, and Metis to this land.
It is National Indigenous Peoples Day!
Of course, the historical connection of Indigenous Peoples to Turtle Island (North America) goes back thousands of years. (Potentially hundreds of thousands of years!) In fact, June 21 was chosen as the ideal time for National Indigenous Peoples Day because it was also the time of the summer solstice—this is the longest day of the year, the start of summer, and a time of cultural significance for many First Nations, Inuit, and Metis.
Something that continues today!
All across Canada, there will be events featuring traditional celebrations, food, dancing, music, and so much more. If you're curious about events near you, ask an adult to help you search—there's almost certainly something close by, no matter where you live.
And even that is just the start!
New coin features Indigenous artists
The Royal Canadian Mint (which prints Canadian money) is releasing a new $2 coin in honour of today. The new toonie combines artwork from three Indigenous artists: Megan Currie of English River First Nation, Myrna Pokiak (Agnaviak) from Inuvialuit Settlement Region, and Jennine Krauchi, who is Red River Métis. Not only is their art in full colour, the silver part of the coin features all sorts of extra symbols and surprises.
The coin is headed to official circulation now, so keep your eyes out! Watch a video about it below.
Let the Games begin!
As big as National Indigenous Peoples Day is, the celebrations aren't confined to just one day, or even just one month (June is National Indigenous History Month in Canada). An amazing event is happening this July, and it involves Indigenous communities across all of Turtle Island.
The 10th North American Indigenous Games!
It is happening from July 15 to 23 in Kjipuktuk (a.k.a. Halifax), Dartmouth, Millbrook First Nation, and Sipekne’katik. This is the first time that the multi-sport competition is being held in Atlantic Canada. Like many events, the competition had been on hold due to the pandemic, with the last NAIG being in Tkaronto (Toronto) in 2017. Moving forward, organizers say they will happen every four years.
These games are about competition, endurance, and athleticism, but they are also about community and spirituality. They feature a combination of modern sports and traditional Indigenous sports, such as archery, canoeing, kayaking, and lacrosse (also known as The Creator's Game). In particular, this year's games will feature the opportunity to learn and participate in the language and culture of the Mi'kmaw Nation (the Mi'kmaw's traditional lands stretch across the current Atlantic provinces).
Should be an incredible nine days!
If you'd like to read more about Indigenous history and culture here on OWLconnected, please check out the links below. Many of these feature conversations with Indigenous writers, artists, and activists.
- Interview with popular author David A. Robertson
- Interview with comic book artist and writer Brandon Mitchell about drawing inspiration from Indigenous stories and history
- Interview with puppeteer DerRic Starlight, who created The Nuppets, a group of Indigenous-based puppets
- Read about Kyle Charles, an artist from Whitefish Lake First Nation who has worked on Marvel Comics
- CHUMS is a new Indigenous kids show, set to debut this fall
- Nicole Mann is the first Indigenous person in space
- Read about a Haida Gwaii village reclaiming its ancestral name