2021 National Indigenous Peoples Celebrations



On June 21, Canada will celebrate National Indigenous Peoples Day.

First celebrated in 1996, National Indigenous Peoples Day is a day to recognize and celebrate the cultures and contributions of Indigenous Peoples from across Canada.

This year, AHS is Celebrating Resilience through Reconciliation. We'll be hosting online events throughout the month of June (see all the events here).



We encourage you to celebrate with us by sharing your images and stories of strength and resilience. Let’s gather together – online – to celebrate the strength of Indigenous peoples in Alberta.

"My mask is called "In Spirit". I have chosen the base color as navy blue with an infinity symbol and beaded Métis flower designs representing Métis peoples. The tulips represent love for all my relations. Focusing on the beauty of nature and in life creates a positive mindset needed to endure our struggles. The mask is surrounded by colors of the medicine wheel in recognition of Indigenous ways of knowing, being and doing.
"This mask is a reminder to return to your spirit, to your culture, your ceremonies, your traditions, your language and your relations to overcome daily challenges. In this way, we may find peace, hope and purpose."

Lisa L'Hirondelle, Métis Cree



On June 21, Canada will celebrate National Indigenous Peoples Day.

First celebrated in 1996, National Indigenous Peoples Day is a day to recognize and celebrate the cultures and contributions of Indigenous Peoples from across Canada.

This year, AHS is Celebrating Resilience through Reconciliation. We'll be hosting online events throughout the month of June (see all the events here).



We encourage you to celebrate with us by sharing your images and stories of strength and resilience. Let’s gather together – online – to celebrate the strength of Indigenous peoples in Alberta.

"My mask is called "In Spirit". I have chosen the base color as navy blue with an infinity symbol and beaded Métis flower designs representing Métis peoples. The tulips represent love for all my relations. Focusing on the beauty of nature and in life creates a positive mindset needed to endure our struggles. The mask is surrounded by colors of the medicine wheel in recognition of Indigenous ways of knowing, being and doing.
"This mask is a reminder to return to your spirit, to your culture, your ceremonies, your traditions, your language and your relations to overcome daily challenges. In this way, we may find peace, hope and purpose."

Lisa L'Hirondelle, Métis Cree

Reconciliation through understanding

Do you have a question about Indigenous Health and History?  This is a safe space to ask your questions.

Learn more about Indigenous Peoples and Communities in Alberta.


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  • Are there Indigenous communities in Alberta that still do not have safe drinking water? If so, what can we do to help?

    Karen asked 21 days ago

    Thank you for your question.  Many First Nations across Canada have had long term boil water advisories, and several are currently on short term boil water advisories.  Currently in Alberta, all long term advisories have been lifted.  However, there are 4 communities that are on short term advisories.  

    To learn more about how Indigenous Services Canada is working to end boil water advisories for Indigenous communities, click here. You can also can also check out the Alberta Emergency Management website for more information. We’d encourage you to keep an eye out for supports that are advertised on either site.

    If you have concerns or would like to learn more, you can reach out to  fnihb_drinkingwater.dgspni_eaupotable@hc-sc.gc.ca.

  • I want to be respectful when I attend Indigenous events. How do I know what I can and can’t do?

    22 days ago

    Thank you for your question.  Here's a response from the Indigenous Culutral Competency Education team:

    Attending an Indigenous event is a great opportunity to build relationships and to gain exposure to stories and cultural practices that might be different from your own. Many Indigenous events offer the opportunity to:

    • Meet local Indigenous people
    • Learn about Indigenous culture and history
    • Show support for Indigenous communities by taking interest in issues that are important to Indigenous people

    Tips for attending events

    • Listen and observe. Be open to hearing about other ways of experiencing the world.
    • Take your lead from others in attendance. Participate as you feel comfortable.
    • Make connections with other people attending. Ask questions about ways you might get involved in further activities of interest. 
  • What some ways as non-Indigenous allies we can recognize Indigenous Peoples Awareness and celebrations in our workplaces?

    NY asked 21 days ago

    Thank you for your question.  The Indigenous Cultural Competency Education provided this response:

    Allies should be arming themselves with knowledge and sharing that knowledge with others, to breakdown discrimination and stereotypes that some carry with them. Take an Indigenous Awareness course, and always look for ways to learn more about Indigenous Peoples, our culture and values.  Follow Indigenous content on social media, and share events with your team. Find out about the Indigenous month celebrations and share with others. Recommend and share your favorite Indigenous Authors, books, movies etc.

  • Smudging looks cool – what’s that all about?

    22 days ago

    Thank you for your question.  Here is the response from the Indigenous Cultural Competency Team:

    Smudging is an important custom and tradition of Indigenous people, as this ceremony is used to purify the mind, body and spirit.  This tradition can be done whenever an individual is needing to remove any negative thoughts, feelings, and to bring a sense of balance and wellness to the person, or to the environment.  Usually the smudge ceremony is done prior to another ceremony, such as a pipe or sweatlodge ceremony.  Having an individual smudge before taking part in a ceremony or before they touch traditional objects ensures that the person is free from any negativity and is prepared mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually balanced. 

    The act of smudging involves the use of traditional plants and medicines, which could vary depending on their own familial teachings, or even where they are located across the province.  Some of these plants used are cedar, sage, sweetgrass, tobacco, and fungus.  During a smudge ceremony, an individual will take one (or more) of the plants and light them with matches.  The individual will then use their hands, or a feather to waft the smoke that rises from the plants, around their body and the area they are in.  While a person is smudging the intent is to cleanse oneself with the smoke; bringing positive healing and restoration of harmony.  The thoughts, feelings and any negativity is thought to be carried to the Creator, while leaving a person with a cleansed mind, body and spirit.  

    It is important to understand that these teachings are sacred and are passed down within families and communities and will therefore vary depending on who you are learning these from.     

  • Why do we use the word “Indigenous” now?

    22 days ago

    Thank you for your question.  The AHS Indigenous Cultural Competency Education team provided this response:

    “Aboriginal” was the term used to refer to the original inhabitants of Canada - First Nations, Métis, and Inuit and was adopted by the Federal government in the 1982 Canadian Constitution. In 2015, Provincial and Federal governments started using the term “Indigenous,”mostly in response to calls coming from within Indigenous communities.

    Many Indigenous Peoples did not accept the term “Aboriginal” for a number of reasons. First, it was an externally developed English name created without input from Indigenous groups. Self-chosen names are important because they are tied to a peoples’ identity. The word “Aboriginal” also does not properly describe the group of people it is referring to. If it is broken down into its Latin roots, the “ab” part of “Aboriginal” means “away from” or “not,” so technically the name means “not original” which is opposite to the intended meaning. Finally, “Aboriginal” is used for convenience by Canadians and Canadian institutions as an umbrella term to describe a large group of extremely diverse people from across Canada. In doing this, we tend to ignore the diversity of Indigenous communities and treat Indigenous Peoples as one homogenized group.

    The term “Indigenous” is in many ways a more appropriate term to describe Indigenous Peoples world-wide, and has been used by the United Nations for many years. The term ties Indigenous Peoples to rights laid out in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP). By recognizing First Nations, Inuit and Métis as Indigenous Peoples, the government is acknowledging their legal right to offer or withhold consent to development, while also fostering the principles of equality, partnership, good faith and mutual respect. 

    By including “Peoples” after “Indigenous” the term acknowledges that there is more than one group of Indigenous individuals. “Indigenous” comes from the Latin word indigena, which means “sprung from the land; native.” Using the term “Indigenous” therefore links Indigenous Peoples to their land and respects their claims over it.

    It is preferable to use the Nation-specific term to refer to Indigenous groups whenever possible, because “Indigenous” is still an umbrella term referring to large groups of people. For example, “the Siksika Nation of the Blackfoot Confederacy.” Always pay attention to what communities are calling themselves – some communities use “Band,” some use “Nation,” and there are some who still use “Indian Band.”