Explore the diverse and rich cultures, experiences, histories, and stories of Indigenous peoples and communities.
Click on one of the topics below to jump to the corresponding section and learn more:
National Indigenous Peoples Day
June 21 is National Indigenous Peoples Day. This is a day for all Canadians to recognize and celebrate the unique heritage, diverse cultures and outstanding contributions of First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples. The Canadian Constitution recognizes these three groups as Aboriginal peoples, also known as Indigenous peoples.
Although these groups share many similarities, they each have their own distinct heritage, language, cultural practices and spiritual beliefs.
In cooperation with Indigenous organizations, the Government of Canada chose June 21, the summer solstice, for National Aboriginal Day, now known as National Indigenous Peoples Day. For generations, many Indigenous peoples and communities have celebrated their culture and heritage on or near this day due to the significance of the summer solstice as the longest day of the year.
National Day for Truth and Reconciliation
The National Day for Truth and Reconciliation was designated by the federal government as a new federal statutory holiday, in response to one of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s 94 Calls to Action.
September 30, 2021, marked the first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. This day ensures the ongoing recognition of the history and legacy of residential schools, as a vital part of the healing and reconciliation process, and honours their survivors, families, and communities.
Information for Businesses
As a federal statutory holiday, the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation only impacts crown corporations, federal public sector workers, and businesses that are federally regulated or subject to the Canada Labour Code.
The BC Employment Standards Act, which the vast majority of provincially regulated BC businesses are subject to, has not been amended to include September 30 as a statutory holiday this year. As a result, recognizing the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation will be at the discretion of individual private BC employers.
Moving forward, the Provincial Government has announced that it will consult and engage with business and labour stakeholders for their perspectives on how the national day is commemorated in future years.
However, many provincial public sector workers, schools, and post-secondary institutions, along with some health sector workplaces, will be closed or operating at reduced capacity. In addition, many unionized workplaces may observe the holiday as well, depending on whether their collective agreement makes provisions for all federal holidays.
Orange Shirt Day
Also taking place on September 30, Orange Shirt Day is an Indigenous-led commemorative day that opens the door to a global conversation on all aspects of residential schools.
This day relates to the experience of Phyllis (Jack) Webstad, a Northern Secwepemc (Shuswap) from the Stswecem’c Xgat’tem First Nation, on her first day of school, where she arrived dressed in a new orange shirt, which was taken from her. It is now a symbol of the stripping away of the culture, freedom, and self-esteem experienced by Indigenous children over generations.
On September 30, in recognition of the harm of the residential school system, we encourage you to wear orange to raise awareness of the tragic legacy of residential schools and to honour the thousands of survivors.
Resources from the Government of Canada
Indigenous Peoples and Communities
‘Indigenous peoples’ is a collective name for the original peoples of North America and their descendants. Often, ‘Aboriginal peoples’ is also used.
The Canadian Constitution recognizes three groups of Aboriginal peoples:
These are three distinct peoples with unique histories, languages, cultural practices and spiritual beliefs.
Discover the history of Indigenous peoples in Canada, reconciliation and more.
Indigenous Arts, Culture and Heritage
The Government of Canada works with Indigenous partners to help celebrate, raise awareness of and preserve Indigenous arts, culture and heritage.
Explore the rich and diverse cultures, voices, experiences and histories of First Nations, Inuit and Métis Peoples with resources from the Government of Canada.
Learn how the Government of Canada is working to advance reconciliation and renew the relationship with Indigenous peoples, based on recognition of rights, respect, cooperation and partnership.
Resources from the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation
The National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation (NCTR) is a place of learning and dialogue where the truths of the residential school experience will be honoured and kept safe for future generations.
Below is a list of key resources from the NCTR at the University of Manitoba:
Free Online Courses from Canadian Post-Secondary Institutions
Various Canadian post-secondary institutions offer free online courses for individuals that are interested in exploring Indigenous histories, and a few of these courses are listed below.
Aboriginal Worldviews and Education – University of Toronto
Offered through Coursera, Aboriginal Worldviews and Education will explore indigenous ways of knowing and how they can benefit all students. Intended for both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal learners, topics include historical, social, and political issues in Aboriginal education; terminology; cultural, spiritual and philosophical themes in Aboriginal worldviews; and how Aboriginal worldviews can inform professional programs and practices, including but not limited to the field of education.
Indigenous Awareness – BC Institute of Technology
Indigenous Awareness promotes an increased understanding of Indigenous people and their place and space in Canada, past and present. The course will provide you with foundational knowledge of Indigenous people in the hopes that as the true history and contemporary reality of Indigenous people is more broadly known, Reconciliation can begin.
Indigenous Canada – University of Alberta
Focusing on Indigenous histories and contemporary issues in Canada from an Indigenous perspective, Indigenous Canada explores key issues facing Indigenous peoples today from a historical and critical perspective highlighting national and local Indigenous-settler relations.
Reconciliation Through Indigenous Education – University of BC
A 6-week course, Reconciliation Through Indigenous Education will help you envision how Indigenous histories, perspectives, worldviews, and approaches to learning can be made part of the work we do in classrooms, organizations, communities, and our everyday experiences in ways that are thoughtful and respectful. In this course, reconciliation emphasizes changing institutional structures, practices, and policies, as well as personal and professional ideologies to create environments that are committed to strengthening our relationships with Indigenous peoples.