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National Aboriginal Day is for all Canadians

National Aboriginal Day is for all Canadians

Photos from Na-Me-Res Traditional Outdoor PowWow in 2015

After a long, cold winter, Canadians can finally celebrate the start of summer on June 21, 2016 which also happens to be National Aboriginal Day.

First Nations, Métis and Inuit peoples in Canada will once again be celebrating their culture and history with all Canadians at events across Canada. There will be festivals, music and dance performances, PowWows and other festivities in rural and urban areas.

For generations, the beginning of summer was, and still is, a time of abundance as it marks a time of hunting and gathering food, and harvesting wild grasses, along with berries, edible roots and herbs.

“To have a special day to take my children and grandchildren to sing and dance, and be proud and happy that our spiritual DNA is connected to the land is very important to me and to all of our people across Canada,” says Albert Dumont, an Algonquin spiritual advisor and elder with the Kitigan Zibi Anishinabeg community just outside Maniwaki, Que. “To know that this resource-rich land was given to us by the Creator is worth celebrating as a family and a community on this one special day.”

All Canadians are invited to share in the celebrations, says Dumont. National Aboriginal Day began 20 years ago in 1996 as a way to recognize the diverse cultures and contributions of First Nations, Métis and Inuit people in Canada. It’s an opportunity for all Canadians to learn something about Indigenous peoples and celebrate their songs, dances, artistry, food and spiritual beliefs.

There are several events in the Toronto area, the biggest being the Indigenous Arts Festival at Fort York National Historic Site, from Friday, June 17, 2016 to Sunday, June 19, 2016.

This year, the fourth annual festival celebrates traditional and contemporary music, dance, theatre, storytelling, visual arts, crafts and food by indigenous peoples from across Turtle Island. Produced by Fort York in collaboration with the Mississaugas of the New Credit First Nation. toronto.ca/fortevents

The highlight of the weekend at Fort York is the Na-Me-Res Traditional Outdoor PowWow. The Native Men’s Residence Traditional PowWow is held to recognize National Aboriginal History Month. The event features traditional dancing, drumming, feasting, giveaways, kids’ area and craft vendors. More than 100 traditional dancers are expected to participate. The day begins with a sunrise ceremony and the Grand Entry takes place at noon. nameres.org/ annual-traditional-pow-wow/

The Native Canadian Centre of Toronto is holding their 7th Annual Aboriginal History Month Celebration at Yonge and Dundas Square on Thursday June 23, 2016. This year they have an exciting line-up of entertainers, including Blackstone.

There will also be kids’ arts and crafts tent, craft vendors, youth talent show and dance performances and Aboriginal agencies showcasing what they are doing in the community.

The festivities start at noon with Blackstone closing the day at 7 p.m. Find out more at ncct.on.ca/events/