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11 Ways to Spend the Summer Solstice and National Aboriginal Day

June 21st is National Aboriginal Day in Canada. What will you be doing to celebrate?

Although we’re not totally sold on the idea of the federal government designating one day a year to celebrate Indigenous culture, at least it’s an opportunity to check out some amazing performances by Indigenous artists.

And, as June 21st also marks the summer solstice, there are more than enough reasons to get out of the house and show your love for all things NDN, First Nations, Aboriginal, Native, Métis, Inuit, and Indigenous.

There are many different events being planned across the country (here, here, and here, for example), so we were hard pressed to narrow things down.

But here are eleven decidedly great ways to spend the solstice and National Aboriginal Day this year.

11. Learn about Métis culture at the National Aboriginal Day Celebration at Métis Crossing

Metis Crossing

The Métis Nation of Alberta and their affiliate organization, Métis Crossing, will be hosting a celebration for National Aboriginal Day on June 21st. Located at the Métis Crossing Historic Site (south of Smokey Lake, Alberta), between 11:00 AM and 6:00 PM, the day’s events will include an open stage jam, cultural interpretation, a genealogy exhibit, games, on-site concession, and an elder’s lounge. For more info click here.

10. See Kinnie Starr, Cris Derksen, and Binaeshee-Quae perform at the Luminato Festival in Toronto

Kinnie Starr

Acclaimed Mohawk singer-songwriter and hip-hop artist Kinnie Starr, Métis cellist and experimenter Cris Derksen, and jazzy alterna-folk artist Binaeshee-Quae will perform on June 20th and 21st respectively, as part of the Luminato Festival’s New Canadian Music Series which runs daily at the Festival Garden Stage in Toronto. For more info, check out: https://luminatofestival.com/festival/2015/new-canadian-music-series

9. Watch Kaha:wi Dance Theatre at the Aboriginal Cultural Festival and Competition Powwow in Ottawa

Kaha:wi Dance

Led by founding Artistic Director Tekaronhiáhkhwa Santee Smith, Kaha:wi Dance Theatre (pronounced Ga-Ha-Wee) is an artist-based dance company known for their energetic and innovative performances that blend traditional and contemporary styles. KDT will be performing as part of Ottawa’s Summer Solstice events at Vincent Massey Park. On Saturday, June 20th at 1pm, KDT will perform the piece Medicine Bear, which weaves a magical narrative of traditional Iroquoian stories: how the Bear Clan came to be known as the “Keeper of the Medicines” and the hunter who discovered the gift of healing. Plus, don’t forget about the full traditional powwow going on all weekend too. For more info, visit: http://www.ottawasummersolstice.ca/

8. Bring your family for a pancake breakfast at Trout Lake on Coast Salish Territories in Vancouver

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The Annual National Aboriginal Day Celebration on Coast Salish Territories will once again be held at Trout Lake on Sunday, June 21st. It’s a community-based full day of events that celebrates the diversity of Indigenous Peoples from across Canada. First Nations, Métis & Inuit peoples gather to share their experiences, stories, songs, traditional games, dances & spirit with each other & the general community. All events are FREE, all Aboriginal community members & supporters are welcome; and it’s a family-friendly event, with no alcohol or drugs permitted. There’s a full day of activities, but get there early before the pancakes run out! For more information visit: http://www.vafcs.org/events/aboriginalday/

7. Start implementing the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s recommendations in Halifax

trc-march

Celebrate National Aboriginal Day with justice in Halifax: by joining other like-minded people to support the Mi’kmaq Nation in Nova Scotia, and taking up national calls by Indigenous and allied organizers to implement the 94 recommendations put forth by Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission. The work of reconciliation belongs to all of us, and Halifax organizers are taking the lead. But no matter where you live, why not start learning more about how you can bring more truth and more justice into this colonial world of ours. Here’s more information on how Nova Scotian organizers are gathering and getting started for NAD: http://solidarityhalifax.ca/2015/06/statement-celebrate-national-aboriginal-day-with-justice/

6. Catch Leonard Sumner at the Indigenous Arts Festival in Fort York

LeonardSumner

Anishinaabe MC/singer/songwriter Leonard Sumner will be one of many performers taking part in the Indigenous Arts Festival at Fort York in Toronto. Fusing elements of hip-hop, country, and rhythm & blues, his music appeal cuts across age lines, allowing his style to be enjoyed by people who typically ‘aren’t into rap’. Sumner will be rocking the festival mainstage on Saturday, June 20th at 5:30pm. For more information, click here.

5. Join the Songhees and Esquimalt Nations for the Aboriginal Cultural Festival in Victoria

Le-La-La Dancers

Featuring three days of performances on an outdoor stage in the plaza at the Royal BC Museum in the heart of downtown Victoria, BC, the Aboriginal Cultural Festival will run from June 19-21, 2015. Each day will be dedicated to a coastal nation: there’s a Coast Salish Nation Day, a Nuu-Chah-Nulth Nation Day, and a Kwakwaka’wakw Nation Day. All weekend the festival will open with performances from the two local Host Nations and follow with shows from Aboriginal performers from across the province as well as a show from 3-time World Hoop Dancing Champion Alex Wells. Full schedule and info at: https://www.aboriginalbc.com/victoria-aboriginal-festival/

4. Go see Ghostkeeper, Derek Miller, and Crystal Shawanda in Edmonton

ghostkeeper

Second in size only to Winnipeg’s #ADL2015 celebration, Edmonton will be putting on a full day’s worth of events on June 21st, culminating in a mainstage show that will feature some incredible Indigenous performers—including the idiosyncratic experimentalism of Ghostkeeper, the full-blown, blues rock of Derek Miller, and the powerful contemporary country sounds of Crystal Shawanda. Definitely worth checking out. For more about Edmonton’s 9th annual Aboriginal Day celebration, click here.

3. Rock out with Don Amero, Brett Kissel, and Lightning Cloud in Winnipeg

donamero

With his new album, Unrefined, recently released to the world, Don Amero is taking to the Aboriginal Day Live mainstage alongside his buddy Brett Kissel, and Los Angeles-based hip-hop duo Lightning Cloud, to rock The Forks in Winnipeg. Look out for a special rendition of a new song that Amero and Kissel wrote a few months back, called “Rebuild This Town”. Oh, and RedCloud will be incorporating crowdsourced words and ideas into his freestyles during Lightning Cloud’s set. You don’t want to miss ’em. For more on #ADL2015 in Winnipeg, check out: http://www.aboriginaldaylive.ca/winnipeg/winnipeg-live-concert/

2. Get your Electric Pow Wow on with A Tribe Called Red in Vancouver

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You may have seen ATCR before, but not like this. A Tribe Called Red will be bringing the electric pow-wow out of the nightclubs and into the park—Malkin Bowl in Stanley Park to be precise—for a massive, outdoor Indigenous throwdown on Saturday, June 20th. This one isn’t free, but it’s definitely worth the price of admission. The Tribe will rock the spot alongside Blondtron & Waspy, the amazing Git Hayetsk Dancers, and local DJ crew Klash Akt. Get down to the bass-heavy sounds of DJ NDN, Bear Witness, and 2oolman rocking a stage surrounded by the sunset, sea, and ancient cedars. An Aboriginal Day meets summer solstice taste of Indigenous dance music perfection? Sounds like it to us. More info and tickets available here: http://malkinbowl.com/a-tribe-called-red/

1. Celebrate the Midnight Sun in Inuvik, NWT

inuvik

In Canada’s Northwest Territories—the only place in the country where National Aboriginal Day is a statutory holiday—you can experience a summer solstice that lasts well into the night. Join other northerners in Inuvik, NWT on June 21st for a day of events celebrating the local Gwich’in, Inuvialuit and Métis people and cultures. From traditional drumming, dancing, and foods, to a Midnight Sun Run in celebration of the summer solstice’s warm temperatures, experience what it’s like to be out in the sunlit streets long after midnight, above the Arctic Circle. And that photo above? That was taken at 1:30am in late May. Learn more about NAD celebrations in the NWT here: https://www.facebook.com/Inuvik.NWT.Canada