Celebrating National Indigenous History Month

May 30, 2024

June is National Indigenous History Month in Amiskwaciy Waskahikan (also known as Edmonton) and across Canada. This month is a time for education, reflection, and celebration - a time to support the local Indigenous experiences, businesses and entrepreneurs who contribute to the vibrancy of our communities. There are many ways to connect with the cultures of Canada’s First Nations, Inuit and Métis Peoples over the coming weeks and beyond!

National Indigenous Peoples Day

National Indigenous Peoples Day celebrates the accomplishments and contributions of Indigenous Peoples in Canada. For time immemorial, June 21 has been a celebration of culture and heritage due to its significance as the summer solstice - the longest day of the year.

Take part in National Indigenous Peoples Day celebrations!

  • Head to the TELUS World of Science where you can take in Indigenous performances, marketplace, and tipi raising teachings.
  • Visit the Art Gallery of Alberta where offering remark by Elder Gilman Cardinal will kick off a unique public tour highlighting Indigenous artists in current exhibitions.
  • Check out the Royal Alberta Museum on June 22nd for a workshop with artist Lance Cardinal from Bigstone Cree Nation that introduces you to new skills, cultural teachings, and stories of the drum
  • Visit Indigenous Peoples Experience at Fort Edmonton Park for a smudge ceremony that will include singing teachings, dancing, and music. There will also be other activities over the weekend!

Mark your calendar for community-led, Indigenous events:

Celebrate Indigenous histories, heritage, diversity, cultures, and people all month long!

For ideas of more ways to celebrate, check out the following websites:

Talking Rock Tours

Experience the geologic wonders of Alberta and immerse yourself in the Indigenous stories of the past! Talking Rock Tours provides interactive experiences that reveal the history of the land with a Métis guide and geologist who combines his culture and knowledge of geology. You'll see Edmonton's landscapes in a whole new light!

Listen to music by local artists

Edmonton is home to world-class talent, and much of it belongs to Indigenous artists. Discover the story behind 'A Song Comes to Life,' an original music composition by Edmonton-based musician and JUNO award nominee, Matthew Cardinal, after visiting Métis Crossing, Whiskeyjack Art House & Bernadette's, and the River Cree Resort & Casino. Juno-nominated artists such as Celeigh Cardinal and Nêhiyawak also make Edmonton their home along with some other incredible Indigenous musicians including Jay Gilday, Geraldine Carriere, Rellik, and more.

Check out 89.3 The Raven for a collection of events, award shows, resources, and programming supporting Indigenous artists and communities. CFWE Radio also has an event calendar with a thorough listing of world-class programming.

And this month, we have a couple special musical events happening in Edmonton that you DON'T want to miss!

  • June 6 - Spotlight Series : Jessa Sky & Bee Crane: Head over to the Double Dragon for a contemporary cultural celebration with the incredible Jessa Sky and Bee Crane, two exceptional Indigenous pop and R&B artists.
  • June 16 - kihêw waciston Presents: Aysanabee: Join kihêw waciston, MacEwan University for an evening of music with two-time JUNO award-winning alternative indie artist, multi-instrumentalist, producer, and singer-songwriter, Aysanabee! Get your tickets before they sell out!

Visit Manitou Asinîy

Stones are sacred to many Indigenous Nations, and each has a purpose. The Royal Alberta Museum features the Manitou Asinîy, a sacred meteorite believed to hold great power and significance to many Indigenous communities. Manitou Asinîy is located in an area that is pre-admission, and is accessible to anyone who wants to visit. Afterwards, spend time exploring the Human History Hall, a beautiful representation of both historical and contemporary Indigenous stories in Alberta. The Royal Alberta Museum holds over 18,000 historical artifacts from various Nations!

Wase Saba (Black Bear) Experiences

Take in a part of Indigenous culture through Wase Saba Experiences. Sissy Thiessen is a Treaty 6 Nakota Sioux, Cree & German Indigenous cultural facilitator, Powwow dancer, crafter/beader, spoken word poet and creative writer from Edmonton, Alberta. Book an experience or check out her event calendar to see Sissy in action around Edmonton.

Visit Elk Island National Park

Traditionally, Indigenous lands covered large areas; Specifically, in the Edmonton region, Indigenous groups were primarily nomadic, meaning they moved across the land following their food source - the bison. Many Indigenous groups' traditional areas stretch from Edmonton all the way to Elk Island National Park. Pack a picnic and spend the day reflecting in the serene glow of this iconic and historically significant area.

Pro-tip: plan to visit the park mid-week instead of on weekends and holidays to ensure visitors and bison alike have more space to roam!

Order an Indigenous Box

Indigenous Box is a subscription service that helps you fall in love with fabulous Indigenous-made products from across Turtle Island! Choose from the seasonal plan (4 boxes per year), buy a single box, or send a box as a gift. Each special package contains a selection of unique items from Indigenous brands, artists and artisans.

Explore iconic landmarks

Edmonton has many Indigenous parks and landmarks that are ideal for a moment of reflection. Take a self-directed tour with our handy Guide to Indigenous Landmarks and Spaces curated by Mackenzie Brown. From the Turtle Rock Effigy Labyrinth to River Lot 11 and Beaver Hills House Park, there is so much to explore and experience in and around the city.

Michif Cultural Connections

Located just outside of Edmonton in St. Albert, you'll find Michif Cultural Connections. Michif Cultural Connections provides Métis programming and workshops including moccasin making, jigging classes, traditional finger weaving, Michif language classes, and an exhibit of Métis artifacts at the historic Juneau House. The house is also home to an established library of Métis archival documents and has a gift shop to purchase a variety of Métis arts and crafts!

ReSkilled Life Learning Centre

The ReSkilled Life Learning Centre is an online and in person training provider in Alberta’s boreal forest, one hour north of Edmonton. Located on 25 acres of wild paradise, the school is dedicated to preserving and sharing traditional skills so that students can reconnect with their roots and get to know the lives of their ancestors in the modern day. Head to the ReSkilled life website for a list of workshops, courses and more!

IPE at Fort Edmonton Park

Fort Edmonton Park's Indigenous Peoples Experience will leave you in awe. Gather and explore life through the diversity of First Nations' and Métis peoples' histories, experiences, and perspectives, local to Indigenous life in the Beaver Hills region. The stories, music, artwork, and text in the experience come from local Indigenous perspectives and voices, gathered through engagement with local Indigenous communities and research. Trust us, when visiting Edmonton, this is a must-visit.

Shop Local

Attend a market where I.A.M. Collective makes an appearance! This group is made up of a community of dozens of Indigenous creatives, with members from varying nations across Turtle Island. Ôte Nîkân Petro Gas Station has a huge selection of handmade Indigenous work for purchase. If you're ever in the YEG International Airport, be sure to stop by the Indigenous Interpretive and Retail Centre. This space offers a unique place for passengers to learn about the Indigenous history and culture that has shaped our region and purchase authentic Indigenous-made products.

Looking for more retail options? Pop into our Indigenous Shopping Guide for even more ways to buy local and Indigenous this spring.

Cuisine to Savour

The city's incredible Indigenous chefs are creating delicious and inventive food that will have you licking your plate clean. Check out our guide to some of Edmonton's culinary trailblazers and order some tasty snacks to celebrate National Indigenous People’s Day!

For more delicious Indigenous cuisine, check out:

Educate Yourself

It's easy to learn more about the Indigenous Peoples of Canada from the comfort of your home and have fun doing it too. The Government of Canada has created an extensive learning and activity guide filled with stories and games that will help you and your family learn more about Indigenous cultures from across the country. You can also check out the University of Alberta's free Indigenous Canada course which explores key issues facing Indigenous Peoples today from a historical and critical perspective, highlighting national and local Indigenous-settler relations.

Day Trip to Metis Crossing

Take a day trip to Métis Crossing and discover how the Métis lived as trappers, learn about historical families and their homes, understand how plants are used as medicine and much more. Métis Crossing is the first major Métis cultural interpretive centre in Alberta, sitting on 512 acres of land designed to engage visitors in immersive experiences. This incredible facility mirrors the core values of the Métis community including self-sufficiency, respect of elders, participation of youth, and cultural pride. The wildlife park is home to rare white bison, wood bison, plains bison, elk, and Percheron horses.

For a full immersive experience, book their three-day tour package Beavers, Bison, and People: Our Promise to Wahkotowin, which includes two nights in beautiful accommodations along with guided tours that give you an in-depth insight into the cultural, social and ecological factors that led to the establishment of Edmonton and the surrounding communities. It will allow you to explore the world of bison and beaver, the interconnectedness of human relationships with the land, and what walking a path of reconciliation means to you.

But Wait, There's More!

Looking for more celebrations and events around town? Check out the City of Edmonton's Indigenous History Month page for an extensive listing of events, experiences, virtual talks, seminars and more. For additional year-round Indigenous attractions, peruse our list of Indigenous Experiences in Edmonton curated by Mackenzie Brown. Let's keep the celebration going for months to come!

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