Aboriginal day in Canada

Aboriginal day in Canada: its significance

Hello all and happy Aboriginal day! Yes on this June 21, it is Aboriginal day in Canada! A day

teepees

Teepees were erected in the park I went to today

dedicated to the traditions and culture of the First Nations people. In this post, I want to explore more in depth the meaning and significance of the day, my experience with it.Β  So here we go!

What is Aboriginal day?

Well according to the Government of Canada, Aboriginal day, June 21, is “a day for all Canadians to recognize and celebrate the unique heritage, diverse cultures and outstanding contributions of First Nations, Inuit and Metis peoples”. As those are the three recognized groups of Aboriginal people in Canada. For more on Metis people, see this post of mine.

Each Nation, group, tribe, however you choose to call it, though, has its own traditions, stories, language and they all need to be celebrated. Thus Aboriginal day is a day of celebrating heritage, traditions, culture, beliefs and language of all Aboriginal people.

national aboriginal day

How did it begin?

Well if you ask me, it is about time there is a dedicated day of the year to the original people of the land, to the Indigenous people of this land. The ones who were there long before Canada was “discovered”. But the process officially began over 30 years ago, in 1982, when the Assembly of First Nations (then called the National Indian Brotherhood, a cool name if you ask me) asked for the creation of a day dedicated to the First Nations people of Canada. They then called it the National Aboriginal Solidarity day (another cool name if you ask me).

Following suit the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples also made a case for a day designated to First Nations people in 1995. And…. finally, the Sacred Assembly, a national conference of both Native and non-Native people asked for the same, a holiday to recognize the contributions of the Indigenous people of this country. FINALLY, 14 years after the National Indian Brotherhood made a plea, National Aboriginal day was proclaimed in 1996 by then Governor General Romeo Leblanc. A mere 14 years to come to a decision. That was quick….not

Little one at Aboriginal day

Little one at Aboriginal day

That’s all fine and dandy but why June 21?

Ah good question there! Well June 21 is the Summer Solstice and within the Native culture, every change of season is important and recognized. Especially the solstice and equinox. The Summer Solstice is when the “light overcomes the darkness”. If we think about the Medicine wheel it is the change in the south direction. The south direction is a direction associated with adolescence, growth, of growing outward, as we find ourselves. And think about everything that grows in the summer time. Mother Earth is at her fullest, resources from the Earth are plentiful, the harshness of winter is over. It is a time to celebrate. And Aboriginal people know how to celebrate!

first nations dancers

So across the country you will find events with drumming, dancing, singing, story telling, arts and crafts and of course Bannock! I went to one event today and you should have seen the line to get bannock! Holy crap, it was almost a kilometer long! But again, why was there only one bannock stand? Like really, come on people! So no I did not get bannock but got a whole bunch of cool art directly from the artist, Mike Dangeli, a very talented West Coast artist (Nisga’a,Tlingit and Tsimshian Nation) with nice west coast style tattoos. Click on his name to know more about him πŸ™‚ I will make the office one heck of a cool Native office!

west coast style tattoo

Example of West Coast style tattoo

 

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What is your experience with Aboriginal day? Any favorites? Or is this new to you? Share below πŸ™‚

aboriginal day

 

 

 

36 thoughts on “Aboriginal day in Canada

  1. Steve

    Excellent to see ‘Aboriginal Day’ is active being widely and enthusiastically embraced in Canada. We have a similar celebration of our native culture here in New Zealand… ‘Maori Language Week’ from 21-29 July. This has been going since 1975. Great post, very interesting.

    Reply
  2. Jerry

    Hi Emily, this new to me but very understandable. I did not know that aboriginal is the same as indigenous, so I always connected Aboriginals to Australia. I wonder if the US has something similar? Cheers, Jerry

    Reply
    1. Emily Post author

      hi Jerry
      well Aboriginal is a global term. I know that it is used in Australia but not in the USA. USA will use Native Americans or Indigenous people. Native or Indigenous people is also often used in Canada

      Reply
  3. Fernando

    Hello, Emily! A very interesting article to read. It’s great to know that you are celebrating Aboriginal Day in honor of the Aborigines of Canada. So many of the Canadian population still remember the original inhabitants of Canada and still to be known to the future generation as it is celebrated annually.

    Reply
    1. Emily Post author

      Hi Fernando!
      yes it is all about sharing the traditions but also passing them down to the children, the future generations! Canadians still have a way to go to know the country’s history though

      Reply
  4. George

    Hi Emily,
    I am a History and Mythology buff so the contents of your site are very appealing to me.
    The Aboriginal Day is completely new to me but fascinating tradition wise. I subscribed to your list.
    Hope you can provide us with some Aboriginal myths and legends article in the future. That would be nice πŸ™‚

    Reply
    1. Emily Post author

      hi George
      if you look though my site, you will find what you are looking for sprinkled through different posts πŸ™‚

      Reply
  5. Nnamdi

    Hello Emily, did you say the Inuit and Metis peoples are the first Nation People in Canada? I have never heard of them either, I think I should crawl out of this rock I have been under, to know what is happening in the world. Seriously, they sure have a very rich distinct culture. Thank you Emily for educating us.

    Reply
    1. Emily Post author

      hi Nnamdi!
      No I mean that Metis, Inuit and First Nations are three distinct groups that form the Aboriginal people of Canada. There are hundred of different tribes and nations in Canada alone!

      Reply
  6. Angela

    Hi Emily,
    Thank you for the great information! I never knew there were Aborigine people in Canada. I always think Australia when I hear the word.
    I think it is always good to celebrate your history no matter where you come from. Be proud of who you are. The festivals sound quite interesting. I will have to see if I can view one one day.
    Thanks,
    Angela

    Reply
    1. Emily Post author

      Hi Angela!
      yep you are right the word Aboriginal is often associated with Australia. Another word that is often used is Indigenous. As the Indigenous people of the land. I hope you do get to check out celebrations or ceremonies!

      Reply
  7. jes

    Awesome article on aboriginal day in Canada, you’re the best! I’m not sure if I’ve told you this before but I have the same style of tattoo on my back as in the article, I really love that style of art! Thanks a lot for putting this out here πŸ™‚

    Reply
  8. Travis

    Hi Emily,

    Its been a while since I’ve been back, in fact you where just mentioning it at the end of this post about the healing lodge which was one of your other great posts.

    I find whenever I come to your site you always have key information that I was unaware of. Jun 21 being a celebration for the native people and how long it took them to get something they should of always had. There traditions have existed far longer than anything our country has put together since Canada has been formed.

    I definitely enjoy your informative posts.

    Reply
    1. Emily Post author

      thanks Travis!
      I am happy you are visiting again and enjoyed the post. The traditions have been there for generations and will be there for more generations to come πŸ™‚

      Reply
  9. geoff-n-jane

    Hi Emily,
    You have a Really great website.
    Easy to read and easy to navigate.
    The information is very interesting and informative as well.
    We had no idea that there were Canadian Aborigines too – wow…
    We live in Australia and we see the Indigenous Aborigines here every day, and they are scattered all over Australia.
    On the whole we think that they are a nice and friendly people. But most Australians we believe, hate and fear them, and they are always treated with disrespect.

    Reply
    1. Emily Post author

      hi there!
      yep the term Aboriginal people is often associated with Australia. It is just another term to say Indigenous people. Any Indigenous people to the land no matter where has been through the same struggles, of being pushed away. So many stereotypes as well stemming from a lack of knowledge in regard of the history of the people

      Reply
  10. Allan

    Emily, I love coming to your site to learn about native history. You always have a wealth of information, and I enjoy the stories you tell. I have actually been to a Cherokee national holiday here in the states, and I was overwhelmed with how much artistry and culture were on display. For anyone considering learning more about native history and culture, I highly recommend attending an event such as this.

    Reply
    1. Emily Post author

      I absolutely recommend it too! So much great art and culture and traditions. I just love it! A ceremony or a celebration is just unforgettable

      Reply
  11. edy

    I am new to this ceremony, but I am glad to learn more about Aboriginal day in Canada. It is a fun event to see people who celebrate the day with many different type of themes. I am curious about the singing and excited for the dancing. Must be an awesome culture related! I especially love that West Coast style Tattoo. Thinking of having it on my left forearm. Cool!

    Reply
    1. Emily Post author

      hi Edy!
      it is an awesome culture! The West Coast style tattoos can be very cool. Either in colors or only in black, white and red. It was a day of celebration, fun and traditions

      Reply
  12. Aikaterini Markakis

    Hello Emily!
    Yet another lovely post here! I know this probably makes me stupid but I always has Aborigines connected to Australia only so I would never even imagine that there is an Aboriginal day in Canada, let alone it being such an important day also! That is amazing though and it’s a great opportunity to let younger generations learn the customs and traditions of their ancestors. I would love to attend Aboriginal day next year hopefully! Thank you for sharing Emily!

    Reply
    1. Emily Post author

      hi Katerina!
      it does not make you stupid at all. Lots of people associate Aboriginal people with Australia. Aboriginal is just another word for all native people. I highly recommend attending a celebration!

      Reply
  13. Derek

    I saw too late this year the date of this day on a facebook page I follow. Oh well next year I am hoping to take my eldest son to some festivities that are held on this day with the Metis people so my son can learn his heritage.

    I am still learning a lot about Native and Metis culture and I was wondering what bannock is?

    Reply
    1. Emily Post author

      hi Derek
      good that you are learning about your history and ancestors!! I highly recommend attend celebrations and ceremonies. Bannock is fry bread, a staple in the Native culture. If you go in the recipes and natural rememdies section on my site, you will see an article about bannock which includes my own recipe πŸ™‚

      Reply
  14. Jeremy

    Hi Emily,
    This is a great article. I was completely unaware that this event took place and I’m glad someone could bring it to light. I think that’s really awesome that in 1996, national aboriginal day was created. I enjoy reading new article’s about historic events. Look forward to reading more!

    -Jeremy

    Reply
    1. Emily Post author

      thanks Jeremy!
      I really enjoy Aboriginal day. it is a day of traditions and celebrations and remembering and honoring the ancestors. All my Relations

      Reply
  15. Todd

    Thanks for the article. I lived in Canada for a while, and knew hardly anything about this. Makes you wonder how much the media should push these kind of things…

    Reply
    1. Emily Post author

      hi Todd!
      true it is only beginning to be discussed. We are on the right direction I believe but it has taken a lot of time

      Reply
  16. Neil

    What a lovely site Emily. This is a fascinating read and I really hadn’t heard of Aboriginal Day in Canada, just presumed it was Australia like many others I guess. I love the story about your blanket ceremony, sounds like such a beautiful experience. Thank you for sharing your stories.

    Reply

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