Celebrating National Indigenous History Month
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 history and culture 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. Head to the Edmonton Indigenous Peoples Festival at West Edmonton Mall on June 18 or celebrate with a Kick-off to Indigenous Day on June 19. Keep your eyes peeled for more events hosted by Métis Crossing, Enoch Cree Nation, and the Canadian Native Friendship Centre on social media!
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!
Whiskeyjack Art House
Whiskeyjack Art House is an Indigenous owned and operated arts gallery and boutique that supports Indigenous arts, artisans, and cultural experiences, as well as local businesses that respect the environment and all its living relatives. Here you'll find Indigenous contemporary art, traditional arts, jewellery & gifts and more.
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.
Experience the RAM
The Royal Alberta Museum is presenting an Up Close Talk on the topic of Ancient Buffalo Hunting on the Great Plains (June 3, from 12:00pm-1:00pm). Join Conrad Little Leaf, Senior Interpreter at Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump as he takes you into the ancient past, sharing knowledge and stories from his ancestors, the Blackfoot plains people.
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 as well as the Manitou Asinîy, a sacred meteorite believed to hold great power and significance to many Indigenous communities.
River Cree Indigenous Market
The Night Market at the River Cree (July 24-26), presented by Enoch Cree Nation, is back again this year! This experience will showcase First Nation & local artisans, vendors, food trucks, and much more. The Night Market is a great opportunity to honour and engage with talented Indigenous creators. Full entertainment line-ups, food truck vendors, artisan list, and additional details will be available soon.
Celebrate the latest works by Indigenous Peoples’ innovation in film, video, and new media, with exciting selections of works from around the globe. Dreamspeakers International Indigenous Film Festival (May 27-June 4) has been around since 1993 and highlights the outstanding work of Indigenous artists. Immerse yourself in culture, art, and an exploration of the stories that shape humanity. Get ready to be inspired!
ᐁ ᐱᒥᐦᐋᔦᕁ ê-pimihâyahk
The Alberta Aviation Museum is excited to be embarking on a new art installation exhibit collaboration with amiskwaciy Academy. ᐁ ᐱᒥᐦᐋᔦᕁ ê-pimihâyahk (we are all flying together) will be on display to the public starting on June 11. This new art installation comes to fruition through the artistry of the students of amiskwaciy Academy, with guidance from Stephanie Sakkab, kanihtâwisimot maskwa onîmihitow & kêhtêyah Darlene Johnson. Witness this masterful artwork on display in the museum gallery!
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!
Listen to music by local artists
Edmonton is home to world-class talent, and much of it belongs to Indigenous artists. It's easy to make a playlist of local Indigenous musicians to listen to. Juno-nominated artists such as Celeigh Cardinal and Nêhiyawak 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 to discover.
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!
Stop by the I.A.M. Collective at the Downtown Farmers Market every Saturday with unique goods made by local artisans. This group is made up of a community of 42 Indigenous creatives, with members from varying nations across Turtle Island. Additionally, Ôte Nîkân Petro Gas Station has a huge selection of handmade Indigenous work for purchase. So, next time you need to gas up, make sure to stop by!
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:
At Home Learning
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 online course which explores key issues facing Indigenous Peoples today from a historical and critical perspective, highlighting national and local Indigenous-settler relations.
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.
Throughout June, Fort Edmonton Park will be hosting Introduction to Working with Animal Fibres, as part of their Indigenous Perspective Workshops. This series focuses on hands-on learning, discussion, and storytelling. Woven through the workshop, participants will learn the importance of animal fibers in Indigenous artistic practices and gain experience with traditional skills including tufting and horsehair embroidery. Participants will spend time walking throughout our nature trails to gain inspiration and create their own art samples with caribou and horsehair to take home. Attendees will walk away with a better understanding of the relationship between culture, the land, and arts!
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. Here, you can Paddle into the Past with a voyageur canoe experience, or explore the 'Visions, Hopes, and Dreams' at Métis Crossing Wildlife Tour. The wildlife park is home to rare white bison, wood bison, plains bison, elk, and Percheron horses.
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. Alberta Health Services also has a collection of National Indigenous Peoples Celebrations.
Let's keep the celebration going for months to come!