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Annual Indigenous Days of Significance

  • January 4 - National Ribbon Skirt Day

    This day originates with the story of Isabella Kulak, a member of Cote First Nation, who was shamed for wearing her handmade ribbon skirt to a formal wear day at her elementary school. Traditionally worn by First Nations and Métis peoples, ribbon skirts are a meaningful symbol of identity, resilience, and survival for Indigenous women, girls, and gender-diverse people, and represents a direct connection to Mother Earth. Isabella’s story shines a light on the enduring injustices, racism, and discrimination faced by First Nations, Inuit, and Métis in Canada every day, and on the importance of the role we all have to play in reconciliation.

  • February 14 - Have a Heart Day

    Have a Heart Day is a child and youth-led reconciliation event that brings together caring Canadians to help ensure First Nations children have the opportunity to grow up safely at home, get a good education, be healthy, and be proud of who they are.

  • March 19 - Two-Spirit Celebration & Awareness Day

    Vancouver's Two-Spirit Community is called together for the national recognition of Two-Spirit and Indigenous LGBTQQIA+ Celebration and Awareness Day

  • March 22 - World Water Day

    Held on March 22 every year since 1993, is an annual United Nations Observance focusing on the importance of freshwater. World Water  Day celebrates water and raises awareness of the 2.2 billion people living without access to safe water. It is about taking action to tackle the global water crisis.

  • March 31 - National Indigenous Languages Day

    It is a day to celebrate and honour Indigenous languages in Canada. The decade from 2022 to 2032 is also the International Decade of Indigenous Languages to promote the use of Indigenous languages world-wide. 

  • May 5 - Red Dress National Day of Awareness for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Girls, and 2SLGBTQQIA+ Peoples (MMIWG2SLG

    This is also known as Red Dress Day with respect to Jamie Black's REDress art installation which helped inspire the red dress movement. On. May 5th, many people across North America hang red dresses in private and public spaces to remember those who are missing and murdered. 

  • May 10 - Bear Witness Day Spirit Bear’s Bearthday

    Celebrated annually, Bear Witness Day honours Jordan River Anderson and invites people of all ages to "Bear Witness" to ensure Jordan's Principle is fully implemented!

  • May 16 - Moose Hide Campaign Day

    Moose Hide Campaign Day is a day of ceremony where all Canadians are called to join together to take a stand against violence towards women and children and to take practical steps for our collective journey of reconciliation. 

  • June - National Indigenous History Month

    In 2009, June was declared National Indigenous Month in Canada. During this month, we celebrate an dhonor the history, heritage and diversity of First Nations, Inuit, and Metis Peoples in Canada. This month is also a time for all Canadians to learn about, appreciate and acknowledge the Indigenous Peoples of Canada's immense contributions, both past and present.   

  • June 20 - Summer Solstice

    The summer solstice for the Northern Hemisphere occurs on June 20, 2024. The summer solstice marks the official start of astronomical summer and the longest day of the year. The summer solstice and subsequent longest day of the year are celebrated by many cultures around the world with numerous traditions, holidays and festivals.

  • June 21 - National Indigenous People's Day

    On June 21st, we pay special attention to National Indigenous People's Day, a day for  all Canadians to honor and celebrate the legacy, diverse cultures and exceptional contributions of First Nations, Inuit, and Metis Peoples. Although these groups share many similarities, it is important to acknowledge that they each have their own unique heritage, language, cultural traditions, and spiritual beliefs. National Indigenous Peoples Day was formerly know as National Aboriginal Day when it was established in 1996 through a proclamation signed by then Governor General of Canada, Romeo LeBlanc.

  • August 9 - International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples

    The International Day of the World's Indigenous Peoples is observed on 9 August each year to raise awareness and protect the rights of the world's indigenous population and highlight their achievements.

  • September 19 - Powley Day (Ontario)

    On September 19th, the Métis Nation of Ontario (MNO) and Métis communities across the country mark Powley Day to remember the recognition of Métis rights in the R. v. Powley case. 

  • September 30 - National Day for Truth and Reconciliation

    As of June 2021, September 30th is now officially recognized as the National Day of Truth and Reconciliation. This day is a federal statutory  holiday, which allows employees in the federal public service to observe and participate in this important day. This holiday also addresses  one of the 94 Calls to Action from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission: “We call upon the federal government, in collaboration with Aboriginal peoples, to establish, as a statutory holiday, a National Day for Truth and Reconciliation to honour survivors, their families, and communities, and ensure that public commemoration of the history and legacy of residential schools remains a vital component of the reconciliation process.”

  • September 30 - Orange Shirt Day (National)

    September 30th is Orange Shirt Day, a day that recognizes the harm Canada’s residential school system inflicted on Indigenous children and their families, and the ongoing trauma that remains today. It is a day to remember and honour the life of every child. The goal of Orange Shirt Day is to create awareness of the individual, family, and community inter-generational impacts of Indian Residential Schools through Orange Shirt Day activities, and to promote the concept of Every Child Matters. As of June 2021, Orange Shirt Day now coincides with National Day of Truth and Reconciliation, which is a federal statutory holiday.

  • October 4 - National Day of Action for MMIG2S

    October 4th marks the National Day of Action for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Girls, and Two-Spirit and gender diverse people. 

    As of 2020, 14 states— Alabama, Alaska, Hawai'i, Idaho, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Dakota, Vermont, and Wisconsin—and the District of Columbia, more than 130 cities, and growing numbers of school districts celebrate Indigenous Peoples’ Day in place of or in addition to Columbus Day. Technically, Columbus Day is a federal holiday, which means it is recognized by the US government and thus brings the closure of non-essential government offices, and, usually, places like post offices and banks. However, states and local governments can choose not to observe a federal holiday. And, as is the case with a growing number of places, they can change the name and intent of the October holiday altogether.

  • November (first week) - Treaties Recognition Week (Ontario)

    In 2016, Ontario passed legislation declaring the first week of November as Treaties Recognition Week. Increasing our knowledge on our collective treaty rights and obligations helps us nurture these important relationships. This is part of the Ontario government’s work to rebuild trust and relationships with Treaty partners and First Nations, Métis, and Inuit peoples. This includes educating Ontarians about the role Treaties play in our lives and relationships today. The Indigenous Education Office within The Ministry of Colleges and Universities supports post-secondary institutions in recognizing the importance this week. 

    2020 was the first year that the University of Waterloo officially participated in Treaties Recognition Week (November 2-6, 2020). To contribute to the broader goals of education, reflection, and action, the Indigenous Initiatives Office hosts a series of virtual events and videos throughout 
    this important week. Learn more about Treaties Recognition Week at Waterloo.

  • November 7 - Inuit Day (International)

    Inuit Day is a celebration set up to acknowledge and celebrate Inuit culture and contributions, but most importantly to affirm the voices of Inuit across the circumpolar world. At the 2006 Inuit Circumpolar Council (ICC) General Assembly in Barrow, Alaska, November 7th was proclaimed as Inuit Day to honour the birth date of ICC founder Eben Hopson. Hopson was one of the Arctic’s greatest leaders who called on Inuit from Alaska, Canada, Greenland, and Chukotka to work together in order to defend Inuit Rights and to make certain no Inuit community is left behind as change and development increases in the Arctic.

  • November 8 - Indigenous Veterans Day (National)

    Every year on November 8th, we honour Indigenous Veterans Day by paying tribute to the important contributions and sacrifices made by First Nations, Inuit, and Métis peoples in service to Canada. Even before Canada was a country, Indigenous Peoples have fought to defend our country and our values. Where there has been conflict, where peace, security and safety have been threatened, Indigenous Peoples from across Canada have answered the call. On this day and throughout Veterans’ Week, we thank the thousands of First Nations, Inuit and Métis who have served and are serving.

  • November 10-16 - Rock Your Mocs

    Established 2011, Rock Your Mocs, is best described as a worldwide Native American & Indigenous Peoples virtual unity event held annually and during November National Native American Heritage Month in the U.S.A. During the Rock Your Mocs, people wear their moccasins, take a photo, create a video or story, add the hashtag #ROCKYOURMOCS and upload to social media. This creates “an online photo album” for the world to see and enjoy.

  • November 16 - Louis Riel Day

    Louis Riel Day is a non-statutory* holiday that occurs on November 16th across the Métis homelands. This date is the anniversary of Riel’s execution in 1885. During that year, Riel led Métis people in the Northwest Resistance, which was a stand against the Government of Canada because it was encroaching on Métis rights and way of life. He was eventually put on trial where he was convicted of treason and executed. Although Louis Riel Day commemorates one of the greatest tragedies of Canadian history, it is also a day to celebrate Métis culture and the continuing progress that Métis people are making in fulfilling Riel’s dream of Métis taking their rightful place within Confederation.

  • December 21 - Winter Solstice

    The next Winter Solstice for the Northern Hemisphere will occur on Dec. 21, 2024. The Winter Solstice, or the December Solstice, is the point at which the path of the sun in the sky is farthest south. At the Winter Solstice, the sun travels the shortest path through the sky resulting in the day of the year with the least sunlight and therefore, the longest night.