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Image Source: Edmonton Journal

In 1996 June 21st was declared as National Aboriginal Day in Canada. For generations, on summer solstice many Indigenous cultures have been coming together to celebrate the longest day of light, the summer season, and for people in the Great Lakes region, the strawberry moon. In Anishinabe culture, strawberries are known as the “heart berry” which support forgiveness. Summer is a time for the heart, to clear out old energy and make room for new possibilities.* And this year it also father’s day! MUSKRAT has put together a list of 7 action packed celebrations being held across Turtle Island. Have fun and Happy Aboriginal Day!

1. Indigenous Arts Festival June 18-20 Fort York National Historic Site

Toronto ON – Celebrations are held over three days with traditional and contemporary Indigenous arts, theatre, storytelling. Grand Entry starts at 12pm on Sunday, with the singing and dancing wrapping up at 4pm. The host drum is the Smoke Trail Singers.

Na-Me-Res Pow Wow 2015 Poster
Na-Me-Res Pow Wow 2015 Poster

2. Aboriginal Day Live June 20, The Forks

Winnipeg MB – Celebrations start at 11am, capping the day off with fireworks at 11:30pm. Features include a cultural village, stage and the APTN Kids Zone, with a competition Pow Wow starting at 1pm.

Kids Face Painting - Aboriginal Day Live and Celebration
Kids Face Painting | Image Source: Aboriginal Day Live and Celebration website

3. Aboriginal Day Live June 20, Louise McKinney Park

Edmonton AB – So much is happening starting 12pm with fireworks ending the day at 10:30pm. The tipi village and cultural stage featuring singing, drumming, dancing and storytelling turn this park a beautiful cultural experience.

4. Summer Solstice 2015 June 19-21, Vincent Massey Park

Ottawa ON – Festival times are Friday 6-10pm; Saturday 10am – 10pm and Sunday 10am-6pm. Performances include worldwide indigenous DJ Shrub, Kaha:Wi Dance Theatre, Tony Duncan who has performed on the Tonight Show, Billboard Music Awards and much more.

Tony Duncan - Summer Solstice 2015 website
Tony Duncan | Image Source: Summer Solstice 2015 website

5. National Aboriginal Day June 21, Trout Lake

Vancouver BC – There is a pancake breakfast at 9am at the Vancouver Aboriginal Friendship Centre Society, 1607 East Hastings St. The friendship walk starts at 11am and takes you to Trout Lake just off of Commercial and Broadway where festivities continue.

National Aboriginal Day at Trout Lake Celebrations Poster
National Aboriginal Day at Trout Lake Celebrations Poster

6. Aboriginal Awareness Week June 14-21, Various Venues

Calgary AB – Events are held at various times throughout the week. Most notably the Family Day and Pow Wow Competition Saturday June 20 at 9am. Other events include an Indigenous Youth Showcase and the Aboriginal Youth Basketball Tournament.

AAWC Family Day Festival Pow Wow Poster
AAWC Family Day Festival Pow Wow Poster

7. National Aboriginal Day 2015 June 21, Kwanlin Dün Cultural Centre

Whitehorse YT – Opening ceremony starts at 12pm. Events include a jigging contest, the country gospel band – Leonard, Louie and Willie, film screenings and educational booths on Aboriginal culture.


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About The Author

Erica Commanda

Born in Toronto, Erica Commanda (Algonquin/Ojibwe) grew up in the small community of Pikwakanagan. From there she moved across Canada living in Ottawa, Vancouver and now Toronto, working in the bar/hospitality industry, mastering the art of listening to stories from her regulars while slinging and spilling drinks (at them or to them). And now through a series of random decisions and events in life she is on a journey discovering and mastering her own knack for storytelling as Associate Editor for MUSKRAT Magazine.

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