Medicine Wheel

What is National Aboriginal Day (NAD)?

June 21st is National Aboriginal Day (NAD), a day for all Canadians to recognize and celebrate the unique heritage, diverse cultures and outstanding contributions of First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples. The Canadian Constitution recognizes these three groups as Aboriginal peoples.

Although these groups share many similarities, they each have their own distinct heritage, language, cultural practices and spiritual beliefs.

In cooperation with Aboriginal organizations, the Government of Canada chose June 21st, the summer solstice, for National Aboriginal Day. For generations, many Aboriginal peoples and communities have celebrated their culture and heritage on or near this day due to the significance of the summer solstice as the longest day of the year.

What led to the creation of NAD?

NAD was announced in 1996 by then Governor General of Canada, Roméo LeBlanc, after consultations and statements of support for such a day were made by various Aboriginal groups.

  • In 1982, the National Indian Brotherhood (now the Assembly of First Nations) called for the creation of National Aboriginal Solidarity Day.
  • In 1995, the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples recommended the designation of a National First Peoples Day.
  • The Sacred Assembly, a national conference of Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people chaired by Elijah Harper, called for a national holiday to celebrate the contributions of Aboriginal peoples, also in 1995.

This year’s event will be at Prince Arthur’s Landing (Marina Park) on Wednesday June 21st, 2017.