Virtual events lined up for National Indigenous Peoples Day in northern Canada

Lillian Elias, pictured here at Inuvialuit Day on June 5 in Canada’s Northwest Territories, will be participating in the”virtual welcome” for the Inuit Futures in Arts Leadership online event to be held on National Indigenous Peoples Day June 21. (Courtesy Elizabeth Kolb)
Many National Indigenous Peoples Day events are going online in the Inuit region of Canada’s Northwest Territories (NWT) this Sunday, as COVID-19 social and physical distancing requirements remain in place in the territory.

The community corporations in the Inuvialuit Settlement Region (ISR) typically organize events to mark National Indigenous Peoples day on June 21.

Previous year’s events have included everything from drum dancing to northern games like blanket toss to public art unveilings.

Current territorial public health orders limit outside gatherings to 50 people and say physical distancing must be observed, so many of this year’s events in the ISR will be streamed so as many people as possible can participate.

Gerry Kisoun, pictured here in an undated photo at World Suicide Awareness Day in Inuvik, will participate in a storytelling livestream on Sunday and will be assisted by a young person who will help make fire and tea for the event. (Courtesy Elizabeth Kolb)

One of the main events on Sunday will be a storytelling event by Gerry Kisoun at the Jak Territorial Park in the Arctic town of Inuvik.

The event will be streamed on the Inuvialuit Communications Society Facebook page.

Also on Sunday, an online National Indigenous Peoples Day event is being hosted online by Inuit Futures in Arts Leadership with an opening event featuring Inuvialuit elder Lilian Elias and a drum dance performance by Sylvia Cloutier, originally from Nunavik, the Inuit region of Arctic Quebec, but who now lives in Canada’s eastern Arctic territory of Nunavut.

Day established in 1996

National Indigenous Peoples Day (originally called National Aboriginal Day) was established in 1996 to recognize the contributions of First Nations, Inuit and Métis  in Canada.

Indigenous organizations and the Government of Canada chose June 21 as the date as it coincided with the summer solstice, the longest day of the year.  (The name was changed to National Indigenous Peoples Day on 2017 as the word Indigenous became more widely used than the word Aboriginal nationally and internationally.)

Other territories going virtual

In Canada’s northwestern Yukon territory, many celebrations will also be online.

In the capital city of Whitehorse, the Kwanlin Dün Cultural Centre and the Yukon First Nation Culture and Tourism Association will be hosting a virtual National Indigenous Peoples Day celebration from 3pm to 5pm local time. The event will be streamed on both organizations’ social media channels. 

Before the event, a “Drive-By Bannock” event will be hosted, giving away free, socially distanced, contact free, prepackaged bannock, jam and butter to drivers at the centre’s roundabout. 

Write to Eilís Quinn at eilis.quinn(at)

Related stories from around the North:

Canada: Seal meat, dinosaurs and friends: Nunavut Day celebrated in Canada’s eastern Arctic, CBC News

Greenland: International Inuit Day is an occasion to affirm Inuit voices across the circumpolar world, leader says, Eye on the Arctic

Sweden: Calls for more Indigenous protection in Sweden on Sami national day, Radio Sweden

United States: Indigenous Peoples Day celebrated in Alaska, Alaska Public Media

Eilís Quinn, Eye on the Arctic

Eilís Quinn, Eye on the Arctic

Eilís Quinn est une journaliste primée et responsable du site Regard sur l’Arctique/Eye on the Arctic, une coproduction circumpolaire de Radio Canada International. En plus de nouvelles quotidiennes, Eilís produit des documentaires et des séries multimédias qui lui ont permis de se rendre dans les régions arctiques des huit pays circumpolaires. Son enquête journalistique «Arctique – Au-delà de la tragédie » sur le meurtre de Robert Adams, un Inuk de 19 ans du Nord du Québec, a remporté la médaille d’argent dans la catégorie “Best Investigative Article or Series” aux Canadian Online Publishing Awards en 2019. Le reportage a aussi reçu une mention honorable pour son excellence dans la couverture de la violence et des traumatismes aux prix Dart 2019 à New York. Son reportage «Un train pour l’Arctique: Bâtir l'avenir au péril d'une culture?» sur l'impact que pourrait avoir un projet d'infrastructure de plusieurs milliards d'euros sur les communautés autochtones de l'Arctique européen a été finaliste dans la catégorie enquête (médias en ligne) aux prix de l'Association canadienne des journalistes pour l'année 2019. Son documentaire multimedia «Bridging the Divide» sur le système de santé dans l’Arctique canadien a été finaliste aux prix Webby 2012. En outre, son travail sur les changements climatiques dans l'Arctique canadien a été présenté à l'émission scientifique «Découverte» de la chaîne française de Radio-Canada, de même qu'au «Téléjournal», l'émission phare de nouvelles de Radio-Canada. Au cours de sa carrière Eilís a travaillé pour des médias au Canada et aux États-Unis, et comme animatrice pour la série «Best in China» de Discovery/BBC Worldwide. Twitter : @Arctic_EQ Courriel :

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