University of the Fraser Valley

5 ways to celebrate Indigenous People’s Day on June 21

5 ways to celebrate Indigenous People’s Day on June 21

Indigenous People’s Day falls around the time of the summer solstice, which has been marked for centuries by many Indigenous groups as a time to come together and celebrate the beginning of a new season. It was first recognized as National Aboriginal Day by the Canadian Governor General in 1996. Every June 21, communities gather to share ceremonies and teachings while honouring the heritage and contributions of the First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples. Below are five ways that everyone can participate.

1. Read the work of an Indigenous author

Learn more about Indigenous experiences and points of view by picking up a novel, essay or poetry collection. Author and UFV Honorary Degree recipient Michelle Good has published two acclaimed books including Truth Telling: Seven Conversations about Indigenous Life in Canada and Five Little Indians. UFV Indigenous Studies professor Nicola Campbell’s memoir Spílexm: A Weaving of Recovery, Resilience, and Resurgence has been shortlisted for several national book awards. Her children’s book Shin-Chi’s Canoe won the 2009 TD Canadian Children’s Literature Award and the 2008 Governor General’s Literary Award for illustration. Visit your local bookstore, library, or click here to discover new favourites by exploring Indigenous voices in literature.

2. Attend a local event

Festivities are happening all over Canada, including Langley, Mission, Maple Ridge, Surrey, New Westminster, and Vancouver. Langley will hold their celebration on June 22 in Douglas Park Spirit Square, where visitors can enjoy a market, games, and entertainment. Mission’s events on June 21 will include vendors, drumming, and storytelling in Fraser River Heritage Park.

3. Listen to a podcast that highlights Indigenous voices

Take in Indigenous history, stories and perspectives through a podcast. Check out This Place, hosted by Rosanna Deerchild, which is based on a bestselling graphic novel anthology about Canadian history. Also see Ekta, a podcast hosted by UFV internationalization specialist Victoria Surtees – episode two spotlights Indigenous students Natasha Rainkie and Leanne Joe.

4. Support Indigenous businesses in the Fraser Valley

Find everything from artisans to IT services at the Stó:lō Business Directory. One of these businesses is Stó:lō Tourism, which offers tours of significant locales with the guidance of cultural historian Naxaxalhts’i Sonny McHalsie (UFV adjunct history professor and honorary degree recipient). Be sure to visit the Stó:lō Gift Shop in Chilliwack to find amazing Indigenous and Stó:lō art, crafts, books, home goods and more.

5. Support local Indigenous art

Visit Kariton Gallery’s exhibit “The Land Holds Our Dreams” by Anishinaabe acrylic painter Mike Alexander. Or, take in the work of local Indigenous fashion designers at Chilliwack’s Chillcouture: Shxwthit’awkw’ fashion show and gala at the Shxwá:y Cultural Centre. Attendees will view designs from Crystal Chapman, Lyn Kay and Nikki LaRock, and musical performances from Arnie Leon, Maddi K and Dion Weisbrod. Watch a film or documentary by an Indigenous creator.

To connect with Indigenous knowledge keepers, services and events at UFV, visit the Indigenous Student Centre.