5 National Indigenous Peoples Day Events You Can Attend in 2023
June 21 is National Indigenous Peoples Day, a day to celebrate and recognize the diverse cultures, unique heritage and outstanding contributions of First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples. Here in Ontario, there are all kinds of celebrations and interesting activities and events to mark the day. Check out five of our 2023 favourites for you to consider plus ideas on what to do and where to stay nearby.
1. 2023 Summer Solstice Indigenous Festival, Mādahòkì Farm, Ottawa, ON
Fun things to do: This festival takes place at Mādahòkì Farm, Indigenous Experience’s property and the only Indigenous Agri-tourism destination and working farm in Canada. Events include a spectacular drone show, vendors, music and more! In addition to the June 21 event, there is a festival, pow wow and screening of The Grizzlies on June 24-25. Check out workshops, cultural experiences, food, music, shopping, a drone show and more.
What’s nearby: Makatew Workshops offers artisanal workshops, shopping and other events. Beandigen Cafe offers fresh coffee along with bannock and other beverages and snacks—the cafe also showcases local Indigenous art.
Where to stay: Rough camping is available on site. Please visit the festival website for a list of other suggested accommodations.
More info: Summer Solstice Festival
2. Nibin Giizhigaate-Giizhik (National Indigenous Peoples Day), Nimkii Bineshiinh Kaaning (Thunderbird Park), Wiikwemkoong First Nation, Manitoulin Island
Fun things to do: Wiky Tours presents a full day of events. There’s everything from a lacrosse presentation, magic show and language presentation to a ribbon shirt/skirt fashion show, a community feast, music, fireworks and more.
What’s nearby: Make an appointment to view Indigenous artwork at Mishibinijima Private Art Gallery or discover museum exhibits, art exhibits, and cultural programs at the Ojibwe Cultural Foundation. Seasons Family Restaurant in M’Chigeeng offers hearty fare and Lillian’s Crafts features beautiful First Nations arts and crafts, such as hand-crafted quill boxes. The Manitoulin Brewing Company is also worth a visit for tours and tastings.
More info: Wikwemikong Tourism on Facebook
3. Nogojiwanong Indigenous Fringe Festival (NIFF), Peterborough, ON
Fun things to do: The unjuried, uncensored Nogojiwanong Indigenous Fringe Festival (NIFF) takes place June 21 to 25 and showcases unique and vibrant performances by independent Indigenous performers. Enjoy lively, thought-provoking acts at four outdoor spaces at Trent University and one indoor venue at Nozhem First Peoples Performance Space. In addition to performances, there are gatherings and workshops in theatre, dance, music, and comedy by emerging talents who have been chosen by lottery and receive mentorship from senior Indigenous artists.
What’s nearby: Whetung Ojibwe Centre in Curve Lake First Nation has a beautiful collection of Native fine art, crafts, jewelry, leatherwork, sculptures, and more by local community members as well as other Indigenous artists across Canada. Or, head out on a guided fishing trip in the Kawarthas Lakes region with the Indigenous-owned Williams Outfitters.
Where to stay: Lil Crow Cabin
4. National Indigenous Peoples Day, Anemki Wajiw (Mount McKay) Fort William First Nation
Fun things to do: From the sunrise ceremonies at dawn to the afternoon pow wow (grand entry at 1 pm) to the community feast at 5 pm, there are no shortage of activities at the celebrations held at Fort William First Nation, adjacent to Thunder Bay. Drumming, singing, dancing, food and craft vendors are all part of the appeal. Note: All attendees (excluding elders and dancers) will need to take the provided shuttlebus up to Fort William First Nation.
What’s nearby: Shop for jewelry and other gifts at Sister Bear Designs, located inside Goods & Co. Market in downtown Thunder Bay. Visit here to learn more about this family of artists. A bit further afield, kick off a wilderness canoe trip in Quetico Provincial Park with Voyageur Wilderness or travel west to Kay-Nah-Chi-Wah Nung (Manitou Mounds) near Rainy River, a fascinating historical and cultural site that has long been an Ojibwe gathering place.
Where to stay: The Métis-owned Haven Hostel in downtown Thunder Bay offers boho-chic private rooms and shared accommodations just steps from the waterfront district. Elsewhere in Northwestern Ontario within a few hours of Thunder Bay, consider Pic River Guest Suite and Mahkwa Lodge.
5. National Indigenous Peoples Day, Celebration Square, Mississauga, ON
Fun things to do: The Miichi Saagiig Anishinaabe United Pow Wow, hosted in collaboration with the Mississauga Nation, kicks off the day’s activities starting at noon, followed by short films by ImagineNATIVE at 4 pm. In the evening, there’s the Celebration & Concert, presented in collaboration with Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation. Artists like world champion hoop dancer Lisa Odjig, folk-pop musician DeeDee Austin, hip hop artist MR. SAUGA, and DJ Shub are all part of the lineup. Kid-friendly activities include painting with the Moccasin Identifier Project and a crayon colouring corner that highlights work by Indigenous artists as well as Indigenous languages.
What’s nearby: Try stand-up paddleboarding, kayaking or yoga on the Toronto waterfront with the Indigenous-owned Oceah Oceah, and sip and sample a craft beer at Red Tape Brewery. Take a drive to Six Nations and visit the Woodland Cultural Centre.
Where to stay: Chiefswood Park offers luxury cabins and glamping along with cultural programming. The Casino Rama Hotel & Spa in Orillia offers a variety of dining options as well as a spa to help you relax after a day of celebration.
More info: National Indigenous Peoples Day Mississauga