Honouring 20 years of Canada’s National Aboriginal Day this year, 2016 is the perfect time to take that special holiday to Canada and learn about its Indigenous peoples – whose influence continues to shape the country that we know and love today.
Celebrating Canada’s diversity, National Aboriginal Day recognises the unique contribution that the First Nations, Inuit and Metis peoples have given to the country’s spirited culture, language and heritage. The day also serves to promote community-driven projects that strive to improve the lives of the nation’s Indigenous people, dispelling misconceptions and bringing together people from all walks of life.
Join in the festivities on 21st June and mark the day by visiting one of Canada’s many cultural attractions. See our pick of the best places to learn more about Aboriginal culture this year.
Alert Bay, British Columbia
Just off of Vancouver Island, Alert Bay is a must-visit island for those venturing from British Columbia’s capital Vancouver in search of tranquil scenery and spectacular wildlife. The peaceful spot a boat ride away from Vancouver Island is also the ancestral home to the Namgis lineage of the Kwakwaka’wakw – the Pacific Coast Indigenous peoples.
Alert Bay is naturally steeped in Aboriginal influence and you can learn more about the Kwakwaka’wakw at the U’mista Cultural Centre or experience the way of life for yourself with storytelling, tours and craft demonstrations at the Culture Shock Interactive Gallery. While there, make time to explore the island’s sacred totem poles and the Namgis Burial Grounds, or learn a few new moves with traditional dances taking place on Friday afternoons at the Big House until August.
Writing-on-Stone Provincial Park, Alberta
Straddling the Milk River in Alberta, Writing-on-Stone Provincial Park is a hugely important nature preserve and historic site. The park is home to the largest collection of First Nation rock carvings and paintings in North America, also known as petroglyphs.
It goes without saying that this area has become incredibly important to the Aboriginal peoples of Canada. Dating back thousands of years, the rock art carved into the sandstone and painted pictographs depict the history of the Blackfoot and Shoshone nations.
Today, a number of tours help visitors to explore the park, discover the meaning behind these special depictions and introduce cultural entertainment such as drumming and story-telling to bring the past to life.