March 31st is National Indigenous Language Day. First celebrated in 1993, National Indigenous Language Day honours the more than 70 dialects and 12 family groups of Indigenous languages across Canada. National Indigenous Language Day provides the “opportunity for Indigenous and non-Indigenous people in Canada to recognize and celebrate the very rich and diverse heritage of Indigenous languages” (Canada Heritage, 2021).
May 5th is Red Dress Day or National Day of Awareness for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Girlsand 2SLGBTQQIA+ Peoples. The purpose and importance of this day is to honour and bring awareness to the devastating situation surrounding the disappearance and murder of thousands of Indigenous women, girls, and 2SLGBTQQIA+. The symbol of the Red Dress for M.M.I.W.G.2SLGBTQQIA+ was inspired by Jamie Black’s 2010 REDress art installation. To learn more about Red Dress Day or the tragedy of missing and murdered Indigenous Women, girls and two-spirit peoples, please visit our M.M.I.W.G.2S page.
June 21st is National Indigenous People’s Day. On this day, we celebrate and honour the Indigenous People of Canada and recognize their diverse cultures, unique heritage, and outstanding contributions. Since 2009, National Indigenous Peoples Day has been observed on June 21st because of its connection to the Summer Solstice, the Summer Solstice, the day of maximum daylight, and its importance to Indigenous peoples.
International Day of World’s Indigenous Peoples is observed every year on August 9th to raise awareness, honour, celebrate, and protect the rights of Indigenous populations around the world. This day was declared at a United Nations General Assembly in 1994. There is an estimated 476 million indigenous peoples living in 90 countries across the world...[making up] about 5% of the world’s population (United Nations “International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples”, n.d.).
Powley Day is important to the Metis people of Canada and is observed on September 19th. This day “celebrates the anniversary of the landmark Metis rights victory [by] the Supreme Court of Canada in R. v Powley [case]” (Metis Nation Of Ontario “A Powley Day message from MNO President Margaret Froh, 2020). The victory of the Powley case is significant to the Metis people because it marks the securing of Metis people recognition and distinction as one of the three Indigenous group within Canada.
National Day for Truth and Reconciliation and Orange Shirt Day
Since 2021, the National Day of Truth and Reconciliation had been observed on September 30th. It is a federal statutory holiday and fulfills one of the 94 Calls to Action from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. The significance of the day is to honour the commitment of reconciliation and “ensure the tragic history and ongoing legacy of the residential schools is never forgotten” (Government of Canada, 2021).
Orange Shirt Day (or National Day of Remembrance) coincides with National Day of Truth and Reconciliation, bringing recognition, awareness, and honouring the survivors and victims of residential school system. The significance of the Orange shirt comes from Phyllis Webstad, who is the founder and ambassador of the Orange Shirt Society, her story and the St. Joseph Mission Residential School Commemoration Project.
In 2016, Ontario introduced Treaties Recognition Week which takes place during the first week of November. This week honours and brings awareness to non-Indigenous Ontarians of the importance of the treaties were signed and exist between the Indigenous peoples of Canada and all levels of the Canadian government. The 46 treaties of Ontario are “legally binding agreements that set out the rights, responsibilities and relationships of First Nations and the federal and provincial governments” (Ontario Government “First Nations, Inuit and Metis”, n.d.). In 2023, Treaties Recognition Week is takes place November 5-11.
November 7th is International Inuit Day. This day honours and celebrates the communities, voices, and culture of the world’s Inuit people who span the Arctic regions of Greenland, Russia, Alaska, and Canada.
November 8th is National Indigenous Veterans Day. On this day, we pay tribute the great sacrifice and important contributions made by the First Nations, Inuit and Metis people of Canada. We honour and celebrate those who serve and have served as well as are fighting or have fought to defend and preserve the rights and freedoms of Indigenous and non-Indigenous people of Canada.
Louis Riel Day is celebrated every year on November 16th. Riel is an important figure for the Métis people of Canada. During the years after confederacy and while Canada was establishing itself as a country, Riel fought to protect the rights, land, and way-of-life of the Métis people. He stood against the Government of Canada and up for the Métis people. Unfortunately, his actions did lead to his execution in 1885. However, his courage, contributions, and legacy live on and are celebrated every year on the anniversary of his death by the Métis people.
Local First Nations Communities in South Western Ontario