Travel

8 places to connect with Indigenous Peoples in Canada

Learn more about how to celebrate National Indigenous Peoples Day by visiting one of the many places in the country highlighting Indigenous culture

  • Jun 22, 2023
  • 979 words
  • 4 minutes
Nk'mip Desert Cultural Centre. (Photo: Indigenous Tourism Association of Canada)
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Each year on June 21, Canada celebrates National Indigenous Peoples Day. First Nations, Métis and Inuit communities gather to mark their traditions, heritage, culture and resilience with ceremonies and vibrant events. As Indigenous flags fly high during the summer solstice, you’re invited to engage and connect. Here are a few examples of places to visit to discover more about Indigenous cultures.

Nk’Mip Desert Cultural Centre (B.C.)

A striking cultural and interpretative facility located in Osoyoos, Nk’Mip (pronounced in-ka-meep) is owned and operated by the Osoyoos People and showcases their culture, heritage and natural history. Spanning 1,600 acres across what remains of the Great American Desert, the centre offers two multi-sensory theatres, guided walks along 1.5 kilometres of trails, numerous exhibits and a traditional village. On Indigenous Peoples Day, the centre hosts a guided interpretative trail walk and local art is available at an on-site market.

Wanuskewin Heritage Park. (Photo: Indigenous Tourism Association of Canada/Tourism Saskatoon)
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Wanuskewin Heritage Park (Saskatchewan)

Located outside of Saskatoon on sacred land with more than 6,000 years of Indigenous history, Wanuskewin inspires visitors to better understand and celebrate the culture, history and tradition of this region. Its galleries, exhibitions and sweeping prairie landscape are a tribute to the people of the Northern Plains. On June 21, Wanuskewin presents a popular dance, music and visual art event with admission by donation. There are also stations throughout the park, with guided and self-guided tours taking place throughout the day.

Reconciliation rocks at Madhoki Farms. (Photo: Robin Esrock)
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Mādahòkì Farm (Ontario)

In addition to hosting the Ojibway Spirit Horses, June 21 is a big day at Mādahòkì Farm. Located outside of Ottawa, the farm’s annual Summer Solstice Indigenous Festival attracts tens of thousands of visitors. National Indigenous Peoples Day is celebrated with a fashion show, pony rides, public picnic and interactive demonstration stations that include an opportunity to create your own medicine bag, ride a mechanical bull and attempt axe-throwing and archery. The event continues into the weekend through a series of creative workshops and cooking classes, as well as a competitive pow wow.  There is no public on-site parking, but a shuttle runs from Algonquin College.

Blackfoot Crossing Historical Park. (Photo: Indigenous Tourism Association of Canada)
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Blackfoot Crossing Historical Park (Alberta)

An hour’s drive south of Calgary, interactive exhibits at Blackfoot Crossing introduce visitors to the history, language and culture of the Siksika First Nation. There are regular dance and craft demonstrations, and visitors can also arrange to camp overnight inside an on-site tipi, learn traditional survival skills, and sample traditional Indigenous food at the restaurant. On June 21, Blackfoot Crossing presents an Opening Elder Demonstration, dances, live exhibits, special tours, a tipi opening and free barbecue.

Métis Crossing Cultural Heritage Gathering Centre in Smoky Lake, Alta. (Photo: Indigenous Tourism Association of Canada)
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Celebrations in Winnipeg (Manitoba)

Since 2007, APTN’s annual Indigenous Day Live takes place on the closest Saturday to National Indigenous Peoples Day. Located at The Forks, it features a full day of cultural activities and music by First Nations, Inui, and Métis performers. There is also a free evening concert. Beyond The Forks, Winnipeg’s Exchange District is presenting a free, all-day, family-friendly concert, while the Mashkiki Gitigaan Medicine Garden hosts a sacred fire and a pipe ceremony led by an Elder.

Wendake. (Photo: Robin Esrock)
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Wendake (Quebec)

With a fantastic museum, restaurant and hotel, Wendake also hosts the annual Wendake International Pow Wow. It is one of the largest events of its kind in Canada, attracting more than 200 dancers and drummers from Indigenous communities across in Quebec, Canada and the United States. Tens of thousands of visitors attend the performances, enjoying traditional food, art and music. Wendake offers full-board packages with accommodation, activities and meals, including the opportunity to sleep overnight in a stunning replica of a traditional Huron-Wendat longhouse.

Ojibwe Cultural Foundation. (Photo: Indigenous Tourism Association of Canada)
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Ojibwe Cultural Foundation (Ontario)

The Ojibwe Cultural Foundation was established to safeguard and revitalize the language, culture, arts, spirituality and traditions of the Anishinaabe People residing on Manitoulin Island and its surrounding regions. Situated within the M’Chigeeng First Nation, the expansive facility spans 11,000 square feet and includes a museum, art gallery, language resources, healing lodge, ancient scrolls and a performance amphitheatre. Manitoulin Island, the largest freshwater island in the world, is located on Lake Huron, about a two-hour drive from Sudbury.

Squamish Lilwat Cultural Centre. (Photo: Indigenous Tourism Association of Canada)
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Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Centre (British Columbia)

Whistler’s Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Centre is a museum, gathering place and educational facility that introduces visitors to the rich history and traditions of the Squamish and Lil’wat People. It hosts workshops, programs and performances throughout the year and is a true cultural highlight among the ski and bike slopes. On National Indigenous Peoples Day, the centre hosts special performances, curator talks, live carvings by local artists, kids craft activities and an artist market. Indigenous-inspired cuisine is served at the Thunderbird Café.

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