June is National Indigenous History Month and June 21 is National Indigenous Peoples Day

National Indigenous Peoples Day Featured image

Faith Desmoulin is a student in the Indigenous Studies undergraduate program. She is the student success mentor lead (Indigenous student success and transition assistant) at the Centre for Indigenous Student Services. Desmoulin is an Aniishnabekwe from the Wiikwemkoong Unceded Territory on Manitoulin Island. She wrote the following article about the significance of National Indigenous History Month and National Indigenous Peoples Day.

The month of June was named National Indigenous History Month in 2009, while National Indigenous Peoples Day has been celebrated on June 21 since 1996.

Indigenous Peoples and Canadians across Turtle Island (which refers to the continent of North America) celebrate National Indigenous History Month to honour the history, heritage and diversity of Indigenous Peoples. It is also an opportunity to recognize the resilience of present-day Indigenous communities. Many celebrations will be taking place and livestreaming across Canada throughout the month. This provides an opportunity for people across Canada to recognize the strengths of present-day Indigenous Peoples and communities. There will be livestreaming of Powwows, performances and much more. 

What is National Indigenous History Month?

June is a month to celebrate and learn about whose land you are on by listening to and acknowledging it. Many Canadians are unaware that Canada is home to a diverse range of Indigenous Nations, each with its own language, culture and heritage, art and dance. All Canadians, Indigenous and non-Indigenous, have the chance every June to reflect on and learn about Indigenous Peoples’ history, traditions, sacrifices and contributions. This month, the histories of First Nations, Métis and Inuit nations come together.

Long before Canada was formed, Indigenous Peoples flourished on Turtle Island. They are part of Canada’s history and continue to play a significant role in its growth and future as First Peoples. National Indigenous History Month offers many opportunities to learn more about the history of Indigenous Peoples in Canada.

What is National Indigenous Peoples Day?

In 1996, the governor general of Canada, Roméo LeBlanc, declared that June 21 be designated as National Aboriginal Day by the federal government. This name was changed to “National Indigenous Peoples Day” in 2017 by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

National Indigenous Peoples Day falls on the summer solstice, which is the longest day of the year. It is a day of significance, as Indigenous Peoples and communities have honoured their culture and history on the summer solstice for generations. Indigenous Peoples invite all non-Indigenous and Canadians to participate in the festivities.

York University's Indigenous History Month events

On June 21, in recognition of National Indigenous History Month and National Indigenous Peoples Day, the York University Indigenous Alumni Network (YUIAN), in partnership with the Centre for Indigenous Student Services and the Office of Alumni Engagement, invites you to a virtual panel discussion and Q-and-A on Indigeneity, identity and student success. It is open to the York community. To register, which is required, visit yorku.ca/alumniandfriends/event/alumni-networks-a-conversation-on-indigeneity-and-student-success.

On June 24, from 2 to 4 p.m., the Indigenous Students’ Association at York is hosting a panel in collaboration with the York Federation of Students and the Continuing Education Students Association of X University (CESAX). The panel is open to the York community and the public. Registration is required, and more details are available at instagram.com/indigsay.

Local livestreaming of events

The month of June will see various workshops, teachings, reading lists and much more. Registration may be required for some events. To learn more, visit ncct.on.ca/ncct-events.

Traditional Craft and Storytelling: Attend an interactive information session and discover the calming effects of mindfulness and the art of meditation through art. Registration is required. Visit aboriginalhealthcentre.com/event/traditional-chat-and-storytelling.

Watch PowWows live on PowWows.com: powwows.com/main/watch-pow-wows-live-powwows-com. 

CBC: 35 books to read for National Indigenous History Month: A list of materials to read during National Indigenous History Month, compiled by the CBC, is available at cbc.ca/books/35-books-to-read-for-national-indigenous-history-month-1.5585489.

Four Directions Teachings: A website that offers teachings about the medicine wheel is available at fourdirectionsteachings.com.

Seven Generations Education Institute: Information about the Seven Grandfather teachings in the Anishnabemowin language is available at 7generations.org/?page_id=2396.

Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami: Information about the Inuit Indigenous peoples, teachings and regions is available at itk.ca/about-canadian-inuit.

Métis Nation of Ontario: An informative website about the Métis peoples is available at metisnation.org/culture-heritage/who-are-the-métis.

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