National Indigenous Peoples Day
National Indigenous Peoples Day is a holiday that’s observed annually on June 21st and is observed all across Canada—particularly in the Northwest Territories and the Yukon. This holiday recognizes and honors the achievements of the Inuit, the Métis peoples, and First Nations peoples.
It’s been observed as a holiday in the Northwest Territories since 2001 but has only been a holiday in the Yukon since 2017. It’s a holiday that falls on the summer solstice, a day of the year that has significant religious and symbolic value to indigenous peoples and also happens to be the longest day of the year.
The History Of National Indigenous Peoples Day
This holiday was first suggested by the Assembly of First Nations (known as the National Indian Brotherhood at the time) in 1982. The holiday suggested was National Aboriginal Solidarity Day and it was proposed as a day of recognition for all native people. 9-years later, in 1990, Quebec would become the first province to make June 21st a day to celebrate Indigenous peoples and their culture.
However, at this point in time in 1990, the holiday still wasn’t observed as a national day. It wouldn’t be until tensions between indigenous and non-indigenous peoples led to renewed calls for a national day of recognition. A national meeting of aboriginal and non-aboriginal spiritual leaders was organized by Elijah Harper and came together in 1995. This meeting was called The Sacred Assembly and they encouraged the federal government of Canada to establish National First Peoples Day.
On June 13, 1996, Governor General Roméo LeBlanc announced the holiday, and by June 21st of that year, the holiday was made official and celebrated as the first National Aboriginal Day. On June 21, 2017, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced plans to change the name of the holiday from National Aboriginal Day to National Indigenous Peoples Day.
Observing National Indigenous Peoples Day
This holiday is observed through cultural events and other activities that highlight the importance of indigenous cultures and shine the spotlight on them.