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National Indigenous Peoples Day in Calgary

For generations, many Indigenous groups and communities have celebrated their culture and heritage on June 21 or around that time of year because of the significance of the summer solstice as the longest day of the year.

National Aboriginal Day, now National Indigenous Peoples Day, was announced in 1996 by then Governor General of Canada, Roméo LeBlanc, through the Proclamation Declaring June 21 of Each Year as National Aboriginal Day. This was the result of consultations and statements of support for such a day made by various Indigenous groups:

  • in 1982, the National Indian Brotherhood, now the Assembly of First Nations, called for the creation of National Aboriginal Solidarity Day

  • in 1995, the Sacred Assembly, a national conference of Indigenous and non-Indigenous people chaired by Elijah Harper, called for a national holiday to celebrate the contributions of Indigenous Peoples

  • also in 1995, the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples recommended the designation of a National First Peoples Day

On June 21, 2017, the Prime Minister issued a statement announcing the intention to rename this day National Indigenous Peoples Day.

National Indigenous Peoples Day is part of the Celebrate Canada program, which also includes Saint-Jean-Baptiste Day on June 24, Canadian Multiculturalism Day on June 27 and Canada Day on July 1.


June 21st Events in Calgary

*All events listed are free

Event: Tipi Transfer Ceremony

Time: 9:30 a.m.

Location: Prince's Island Park

A tipi transfer ceremony will take place on June 21, which will transfer a Blackfoot Confederacy tipi design to Parks & Open Spaces staff Indigenous Landscape Strategist Crystal Many Fingers and Director of Parks & Open Spaces Kyle Ripley. While space inside the tipi is limited to those integral to the ceremony, there will be some elements of the ceremony which take place outside the tipi, and the public is invited to attend. The tipi door will also be open which could offer a view of what is happening inside. A celebration with traditional food, dancing and drumming will take place following the ceremony. This project begins a new relationship between The City and the Blackfoot People based on trust and understanding

The ceremony starts at 8:30 a.m., the public is welcome after the ceremony is complete which is expected to be around 9:30 a.m.

Ceremonialists: Traditional Grandfathers Leonard Weasel Traveller, and Clement Leather. Supported by Holy Buffalo Woman (Motokiiks) Leanne Sleigh

Celebration: A celebration with traditional food, dancing and drumming will take place following the ceremony.


Event: Campfire Chats - A Celebration of Indigenous Music

Time: 4:00 pm

Location: Heritage Park Plaza

Indigenous peoples across Canada have a culturally rich, diverse and immersive history of both traditional and contemporary music. In honour of National Indigenous Peoples Day on June 21, the University of Calgary invites you to the 8th annual Campfire Chats: A Celebration of Indigenous Music. Register here.

Join us and Heritage Park in a celebration of Indigenous culture through live music and performances. Performers include:

  • Craig Ginn, Métis recording artist and UCalgary professor

  • Olivia Tail Feathers, traditional singer/songwriter from the Blood Tribe/Kainai Nation

  • Sandra Sutter, Cree Métis recording artist

  • Rod Hunter and his drum group Eya-Hey Nakoda from Stoney Nakoda Nation


Event: National Indigenous Peoples Day 2023: Panel on Truth & Reconciliation in Sport

Time: 2:00 pm

Location: Patricia A. Whelan Performance Hall

Join Canada's Sports Hall of Fame and Calgary Public Library on National Indigenous Peoples Day (NIPD) to celebrate and learn about Indigenous Ways of Knowing and Being through a panel discussion focusing on Truth & Reconciliation in Sport. Register here.

Panel Members:

  • Alwyn Morris - Order of Sport Recipient and Hall of Famer, Olympic Gold Medallist, and Tom Longboat Award Winner

  • Alayiah Wolf Child - 2023 Calgary Stampede First Nations Princess

  • Michael Linklater - North American Indigenous Athletics Hall of Fame, 2018 Tom Longboat Award Winner

  • Rhonda Rudnitski - SECURE Energy, Vice President, Environment, Social and Governance (ESG)

  • Trevor Haynes - Black Diamond Group, Co-Founder, President and CEO

  • Bob Rooney - Enbridge, Executive Vice President and Chief Legal Officer


Event: OHSOTO’KINO: Indigenous Peoples Day at Studio Bell

Time: 1:00 pm

Location: Studio Bell

The National Music Centre (NMC) and Aboriginal Awareness Week Calgary have teamed up to cast a spotlight on Indigenous dancing, music and song on National Indigenous Peoples Day. On that day, NMC is debuting an updated version of its Speak Up! exhibition, which will now feature five additional Indigenous artists: Tom Jackson, Elisapie, Ferron, Fawn Wood and Drezus.

You can also catch performances by hoop dancer Quentin Pipestem, singer-songwriter Cynthia Hamar, and powwow singers and drum group Eya-Hey Nakoda. Admission is free on June 21. Register here.


Event: Walk for Reconciliation

Time: June 21

Location: Harry Hays Building

All are welcome to join the Walk for Reconciliation for an opportunity to reflect on the difficult history and atrocities of residential schools in Canada, the legacies of survivors, and the steps we can take in the healing process as we move towards a stronger future together. We encourage participants to bring any banners, signs, or flags they would like to display during the Walk.

  • 8 am: start walking at Harry Hays Building | 220 4 Ave SE

  • 10 am: walk ends at Fort Calgary | 950 9th Ave SE

  • 10:15 am: outdoor gathering with performances by drummers and dancers, and speeches

  • 11/33:30 am: free community meal catered by Spolumbo’s for the first 200 participants


Event: Mini Powwow Showcase

Time: 11:30 am

Location: Olympic Plaza

Arts Commons is collaborating with Four Winds (led by Tony Tootoosis) to curate music and performances from some of the many communities that make up Calgary in celebration of National Indigenous People’s Day. Join us on Olympic Plaza for a mini powwow showcase that includes adult dancers and youth dancers, as well as a special appearance by a Tiny Tot Dancer! All are welcome.

  • Tony Tootoosis (AKA Toosick) - MC & dancing Men's Prairie Chicken

  • Ranya Tootoosis - dancing Women's Traditional Style

  • Josh Cardinal - dancing Men's Grass

  • Antaya Cutter - dancing Women's Traditional


Event: Traditional Round Dance

Time: 2:00 pm

Location: Marlborough Community Association

On June 21, join the Aboriginal Friendship Centre of Calgary for an afternoon traditional round dance at the Calgary Marlborough Community Association that will also feature traditional games, stew and bannock, and storytelling. More info here.


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