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.
What led to the creation of National Indigenous Peoples Day?
National Aboriginal Day (now National Indigenous Peoples Day) was announced in 1996 by then Governor General of Canada, Roméo LeBlanc, through the Proclamation Declaring June 21 of Each Year as National Aboriginal Day. This was the result of consultations and statements of support for such a day made by various Indigenous groups:
- in 1982, the National Indian Brotherhood (now the Assembly of First Nations) called for the creation of National Aboriginal Solidarity Day
- in 1995, the Sacred Assembly, a national conference of Indigenous and non-Indigenous people chaired by Elijah Harper, called for a national holiday to celebrate the contributions of Indigenous Peoples
- also in 1995, the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples recommended the designation of a National First Peoples Day
On June 21, 2017, the Prime Minister issued a statement announcing the intention to rename this day National Indigenous Peoples Day.
Toronto Mayor John Tory tweeted today and posted, “Proud to proclaim today as National #IndigenousPeoplesDay in the @CityofToronto as we celebrate, reflect and learn more about the unique culture, knowledge and history of First Nations, Inuit and Métis people.“
The Honourable Carolyn Bennett, Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations; the Honourable Marc Miller, Minister of Indigenous Services; and the Honourable Daniel Vandal, Minister of Northern Affairs issued statements to commemorate National Indigenous Peoples Day
The Honourable Harjit S. Sajjan, Minister of National Defence, and the Honourable Lawrence A. MacAulay, Minister of Veterans Affairs and Associate Minister of National Defence, issued a statement today in recognition of National Indigenous Peoples Day.
National Indigenous Peoples Day is part of the Celebrate Canada program, which also includes Saint-Jean-Baptiste Day (June 24), Canadian Multiculturalism Day (June 27) and Canada Day (July 1).
You can learn more about the unique heritage, diverse cultures and outstanding contributions of First Nations, Inuit, and Métis peoples by reading a digital copy of one the books from the #IndigenousReads reading list or by exploring a virtual exhibit at your favourite museum.