Where to Celebrate National Aboriginal Day

Where to Celebrate National Aboriginal Day 

Have you ever been to a Powwow? If you have never experienced the drums, dancing and colourful attire, you might want to consider checking out the various celebrations for National Aboriginal Day at the end of June. From celebrations featuring Aboriginal musicians and artists to special events at historic sites or activities just for kids – there is something for everyone. 

National Aboriginal Day is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year and there are celebrations all across the country to honor our First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples. There are many distinct Nations that make up Canada's Aboriginal population and each have their own unique languages, histories and cultural practices. 

Together these groups make up just over 4% of Canada's population (2011, Government of Canada data). The celebrations fall on the summer solstice, a day when many Aboriginal groups have traditionally celebrated their culture and is the longest day of the year. So head outside to enjoy the sunshine and learn a bit more about our diverse culture. 


The West Coast

From watching a hoop dance to learning how to finger weave or listening to stories from a Cree elder there are a variety of activities happening both on and off the island. If you happen to be in the Victoria area at the time you might want to check out the Victoria Aboriginal Cultural Festival. 

This free event is hosted by the Songhees and Esquimal Nations and will include music, dance, food and art exhibits. Here you can learn more about the history through events such as a totem pole tour or simply enjoy the sights and sounds on the stage. In Vancouver, events start the weekend before with a traditional Coast Salish welcome on June 19. There are a variety of events being held at Canada Place including performances from Aboriginal musicians, traditional dances and storytelling. 

Find out more: 
Victoria: https://www.aboriginalbc.com/victoria-aboriginal-festival/
Other locations across BC: https://www.aboriginalbc.com/events/



Alberta's capital region is teaming with events surrounding Aboriginal Day. From book discussions at the library and film screenings to outdoor celebrations there is sure to be something for everyone. For a fun filled day try venturing just north of the city to St. Albert's, one of Canadian's Oldest Métis communities. During their National Aboriginal Day Festival you will find a wide variety of First Nation, Inuit and Métis crafts and entertainment. 

There will also be free activities for the kids and face painting. In Calgary events kick off June 25th at the Stampede Grounds. Start your day with a free pancake breakfast. From there you can attend a Métis Jigging (dance) lesson, watch the Powwow or take part in children’s activities. 

Find out more:
Edmonton: http://www.edmonton.ca/attractions_events/schedule_festivals_events/national-aboriginal-day.aspx
Calgary: http://www.aawc.ca/
Other locations across Alberta: https://www.aadnc-aandc.gc.ca/eng/1100100013322/1100100013323


Saskatchewan and Manitoba:

Winnipeg is hosting their second annual Aboriginal Solidarity Day Powwow right in the heart of the city. There will be a main stage set up with a pipe ceremony and dancing as well as activities and stories for children. A great lineup is set for the main stage including Cree singer-songwriter Buffy Sainte-Marie who will be joining the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra. In Saskatchewan, Wanuskewin Heritage Park is hosting its Powwow for national Heritage day. Again, it will include the traditional dance as well as a multitude of kid friendly activities. 

Find out more: 
Winnipeg: http://www.cbc.ca/manitoba/scene/music/2012/06/21/events-around-the-province-celebrate-national-aboriginal-day/ or http://www.aboriginaldaylive.ca/live-concert/
Saskatoon: http://mcos.ca/june-is-national-aboriginal-history-month/
Other Locations: https://www.aadnc-aandc.gc.ca/eng/1100100013322/1100100013323



If you're anywhere around the Capital Region between June 17 and June 20th be sure to check out the Summer Solstice Aboriginal Festival. This festival aimed at showcasing Aboriginal art and culture draws in over 45,000 people a year. The activity line up for 2016 is still to be announced but it will include a competition Powwow and family friendly fun. For more information visit: http://www.ottawasummersolstice.ca/

Find out More:
Other Locations in Ontario: https://www.aadncaandc.gc.ca/eng/1100100013322/1100100013323



One of the largest Powwow’s in Quebec is the Wendake International Powwow which runs the weekend after National Aboriginal Day (June 24-26). Like many of the other Powwow’s across the country it features drum and dance competitions, children’s activities, handcraft booths and thematic conferences.

Find out more:

The East Coast


All along the East Coast there are various celebrations. In Prince Edward Island join in the celebrations at Charlottetown Landing. There will be traditional drumming and dancing as well as a variety of other activities. Other events in the area include a celebration of the Mi’kmaw culture at Kejimkujik National Park, Nova Scotia. Join Park Canada staff and special guests for a variety of tours and cultural demonstrations.

Find out more:
PEL: https://www.tourismpei.com/search/EventDetails/prod_id/27048/
Nova Scotia: http://www.novascotia.com/events/festivals-and-events/national-aboriginal-day-at-kejimkujik/-1241


The North

If you happen to be up in Canada’s north be sure enjoy the summer solstice. With over 23 hours of sunshine it is sure to be an experience to remember. Special events for National Aboriginal Day are happening in various communities across the region. In Dawson City there are various events at the Dänojà Zho Cultural Centre in the heart of the city. Plans for the day include live music, refreshments and tours of the heritage galleries. Celebrations are also in full swing in Inuvik, Canada’s newest capital city, as they celebrate the local Métis, Gwich'in, Inuvialuit cultures. There will be traditional drumming and dancing as well as a Midnight Sun Run. 

Find out more: 


Wherever you find yourself in Canada at the end of June there is sure to be a festival celebrating our Aboriginal culture. As you listen to the drums and enjoy the sunshine hopefully you will learn a little bit more about Canada’s rich Aboriginal culture. After all, as Former Governor General Adrienne Clarkson commented, the day “is an opportunity for all of us to celebrate our respect and admiration for First Nations, for Inuit, for Métis.” 

Learn more about Aboriginal History and Culture: 

For a complete listing of events across the country:


Jun 21, 2016