National Indigenous Peoples Day Virtual Celebration
National Indigenous Peoples Day (French: Journée nationale des peuples autochtones) is a day recognizing and celebrating the cultures and contributions of the First Nations, Inuit and Métis Indigenous peoples of Canada. The day was first celebrated as National Aboriginal Day in 1996, after it was proclaimed that year by then Governor General of Canada Roméo LeBlanc, to be celebrated annually on 21 June. This date was chosen as the statutory holiday for many reasons, including its cultural significance as the Summer solstice, and the fact that it is a day on which many Indigenous peoples and communities traditionally celebrate their heritage. It was renamed from National Indigenous Peoples Day in 2017.
This day has been celebrated as a statutory territorial holiday in the Northwest Territories since 2001 and in the Yukon since 2017. It is not however, currently considered a statutory holiday across the rest of the country.
The day came about after a series of calls for such a celebration.
It was first self-declared Indian Day in 1945, by Jules Sioui and chiefs from across Turtle Island (North America).
In 1982, the National Indian Brotherhood (now the Assembly of First Nations) called for the creation of a National Aboriginal Solidarity Day to be celebrated on 21 June. Slightly more than a decade later in 1995, the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples recommended that a National First Peoples Day be designated. Also in that same year, a national conference of Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people chaired by Elijah Harper, titled The Sacred Assembly, called for a national holiday to celebrate the contributions of Aboriginal peoples to Canada. 21 June often coincides with the summer solstice.
National Indigenous Peoples Day is now the first of a series of Celebrate Canada days, followed by the National Holiday of Quebec on 24 June, Canadian Multiculturalism Day on 27 June, and concluding with Canada Day on 1 July.
In 2001, members of the 14th Legislative Assembly passed the National Aboriginal Day Act making the Northwest Territories the first jurisdiction in Canada to recognize this day as a formal statutory holiday.
On 21 June 2017, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau released a statement pledging to rename the event National Indigenous Peoples Day. Assembly of First Nations National Chief Perry Bellegarde supported the proposed change, called it an “important step,” citing the terminology used in the landmark United Nations’ Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.”