June 20, 2014
Annually held on June 21st, the Diversity Committee recognizes National Aboriginal Day in Canada, celebrating the unique history, heritage, diverse cultures and outstanding achievements of the nation’s Aboriginal peoples. Events will take place across the country in commemoration of this tribute to the First Nations, Inuit and Métis communities. Although they share similarities, the First Nations (of which there are more than 600 bands in Canada), the Inuit, and the Métis each have their own distinct heritage, languages, cultural practices and spiritual beliefs.
Canada’s Governor General, Roméo LeBlanc, proclaimed the first National Aboriginal Day in 1996 and, in cooperation with the Aboriginal organizations, chose June 21st because of the cultural significance of the summer solstice, the first day of summer and the longest day of the year. It is a local holiday in the Northwest Territories and is celebrated with summer solstice festivals, barbecue fundraisers, traditional and contemporary music, dance and singing, sacred fire extinguishing ceremonies, traditional powwows and feasts. Powwows are a way of meeting together, to join in dancing, singing, visiting, renewing old friendships, and making new ones. They are also a method to renew Aboriginal culture and preserve the rich heritage of Aboriginal groups in Canada. June is also National Aboriginal History Month as declared by the Canadian Parliament in 2009.
National Aboriginal Day kick starts "Celebrate Canada!", an 11 day celebration that also includes St. Jean Baptiste Day (June 24), Canadian Multiculturalism Day (June 27) and concludes with Canada Day (July 1).