7 Ways to (Virtually) Celebrate National Indigenous Peoples Day

Timed to take place around the Summer Solstice, National Indigenous Peoples Day on June 21 is a celebration of the people and cultural heritages of First Nations, Inuit, and Métis communities.


Throughout the month of June, we’ve all been encouraged to better understand and explore the heritage, diversity, and achievements of First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples. While there are many ways to engage with Indigenous histories at any time, June 21 marks National Indigenous Peoples Day. 

Timed to take place around the Summer Solstice, National Indigenous Peoples Day is a celebration of the people and cultural heritages of First Nations, Inuit, and Métis communities.  Though we are not able to gather in large in-person groups, there are still plenty of ways to celebrate National Indigenous Peoples Day, and continue to honour National Indigenous History Month.

Watch a virtual powwow gathering

A powwow is a First Nations’ style of gathering in community, healing, and celebration. Traditional National Indigenous Peoples Day celebrations would often include a powwow, so this year join the Faculty of Native Studies as they bring powwow dancing to our screens! 

Participate in a PowwowFIT dance workshop with a pro

Technically, this does not fall on National Indigenous Peoples Day, but this engaging virtual event will be worth the extra few days wait. Part of the Indigenous History Month virtual event series, co-hosted by our very own First Peoples’ House in partnership with four other local post-secondary institutions, this event features James Jones, better known as Notorious Cree. As a men’s fancy Powwow dancer ranked among the world’s top three hoop dancers, James will speak about health and fitness and then lead participants through a PowwowFit workshop. You will experience Indigenous powwow music blended with easy-to-follow choreography found across the North American powwow trail. Register here for this free event on June 24.

notorious cree/james jones
James Jones (Notorious Cree) will host PowwowFIT on June 24

Come together with the U of A community on social media

We’re inviting U of A community members to share their personal connections to the day on Instagram and Twitter. Share your thoughts or simply follow along as we look to amplify the experiences and messages of celebration and support all day long. Please tag @UAlberta and @UANativeStudies in your posts, and we will share them with the community!

Watch a selection of short films by Indigenous filmmakers

Another event that's worth the wait is the 2021 imagineNATIVE Presents: Short Films Focus co-hosted by the Faculty of Native Studies and Augustana Campus on June 23. This free virtual event includes screenings of ten short films, followed by an artist talk with five filmmakers.

Join the celebrations hosted by organizations and communities throughout Treaty 6 Territory

The City of Edmonton Indigenous Relations Office supports a number of festivals and events throughout the month of June, including programming on June 21. Learn to make bannock with C5 Hub, watch music and cultural performances at the Edmonton Indigenous Peoples Festival, enjoy arts-based programming with Strathcona County, and so much more. Be sure to check out the full list of events and activities for a variety of ways to celebrate.

Watch a performance of Rocko and Nakota: Tales From the Land

Josh Languedoc, a graduate student in the U of A's theatre practice program, performs this solo show he wrote about a child and his grandfather sharing Indigenous tales and lore. The performance will be livestreamed in English on June 21, and a reading of the script in French will be livestreamed on June 26.

Josh Languedoc performs his solo play Rocko and Nakota
U of A student Josh Languedoc performs his solo show, Rocko and Nakota: Tales from the Land. Photo courtesy Thousand Faces Festival

Enrol in the free Indigenous Canada MOOC

To move towards Truth and Reconciliation, it is important for all Canadians to continue learning directly from Indigenous peoples. The Indigenous Canada Massive Open Online Course offered by our own Faculty of Native Studies is free, open to all, can be accessed anywhere in the world, and can be completed at your own pace. (Yes, it’s the course that Dr. Tracy Bear, Dr. Paul Gareau, and the Indigenous Canada team taught to and discussed with Dan Levy last year). If you haven't yet started the course, June 21 would be an excellent day to do so.

Bonus: Two outdoor in-person experiences

We're all keen to get out and celebrate in-person, and this year there are a couple of safe ways to do so. Watch a series of Indigenous short films on June 26 at an outdoor screening hosted by the Edmonton Short Film Festival, and shop at the outdoor Indigenous Artist Market Collective on June 19. Safety protocols will be in place.