National Indigenous History Month: Week of June 20-24

National Indigenous History Month
Jun 24

June is National Indigenous History Month. It's a time for everyone - Indigenous, non-Indigenous and newcomers - to reflect upon and learn the history, sacrifices, cultures, contributions, and strength of First Nations, Inuit and Metis people. It’s important to keep in mind that First Nations, Inuit and Métis Peoples each have their own unique histories. And within each group, there are distinct histories. 

Throughout the month of June, Indigenous Student Services will be sharing daily facts and resources on social media, weekly film suggestions, and a guest speaker presentation for all students, faculty and staff. 

This week:

Monday June 20

Traditional Inuit music is based around drums used in dance, music and storytelling, plus a vocal style known as katajjaq in Inuktut and throat singing in English. This music has become popular in Canada and abroad. The technical characteristics of Inuit music include story singing, complex rhythmic organization and a relatively small melodic range.

Traditionally, Inuit did not have a specific word for what English-speaking people call music. The closest word in Inuktut is nipi, which includes music, the sounds of speech, wild animals, the forces of nature and noise.

The traditional Inuit throat singing involves two people, usually women, facing each other and using their throat, belly and diaphragm to expel sounds. The two participants go back and forth, matching their partner's rhythm until one goes silent or starts laughing.

Inuit throat singing was at risk of extinction after years of erasure by colonists and missionaries, but TikTok star Shina Novalinga is sharing the tradition for a new generation. 

Learn more about 'A revival of Indigenous throat singing'

Tuesday June 21

National Indigenous Peoples Day is celebrated on the summer solstice, June 21st.

The summer solstice is a day that Indigenous peoples around the world have celebrated for thousands of years. The Earth’s northern hemisphere is tilted as close as it gets toward the sun, and we enjoy the longest day of light in the year.

Across the land, First Nations will gather and share in ceremonies and traditions that have been carried out for thousands of years. We gather to celebrate and to thank Mother Earth for her gifts. And we gather to celebrate our languages, cultures and ceremonies, which have persevered and prevailed. 

In Canada on June 21st, the summer solstice celebration has become National Indigenous Peoples Day, a day of celebration for the contributions and cultures of Indigenous peoples. The date was chosen in light of the fact that many Indigenous peoples and communities have traditionally celebrated their culture and heritage on or near the summer solstice–the longest day of the year.

This day is an opportunity for 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, also known as Indigenous peoples, but it is important to know that each of these groups have their own distinct heritage, language, cultural practices, and spiritual beliefs.

Wednesday June 22

Lacrosse has been played by Indigenous Peoples for thousands of years, dating back to the 12th century. The game is considered a gift from the Creator, and as His favourite game, it was, and continues to be, played for His enjoyment.

Long before Canada became a country, every nation on Turtle Island had its own unique version of a stick-ball game. The most popular one on this continent has always been lacrosse, a game that was gifted to the First Nations by the birds and four-legged animals, and played for centuries as a medicine game.

This short film explores how the medicine game that has been passed down from generation to generation by the Haudenasaunee at the Fort Erie Native Friendship Centre is helping to revive their cultures and restore their communities. Young people have always been at the centre of community for many First Nations societies, and this documentary shares the wisdom of cultivating the spirit of belonging in youth, revealing how this is helping to shape a new future.

Watch: Urban.Indigenous.Proud: That Old Game La Crosse (2018, 7mins)

Thursday June 23

Indigenous women and Two-Spirit people have traditionally been revered as life-givers and caregivers. This is why we say, “our women and girls are sacred.” But Indigenous women and girls, including those who are 2SLGBTQQIA, continue to be devalued. All too many become the victims of violence.

The National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girlsis to build a foundation that allows Indigenous women and girls to reclaim their power and place.

Because of Indigenous Peoples’ rich diversity, this reclaiming will look different in different places. First Nations, Métis, and Inuit peoples each have their own distinct cultures, languages, and ways of life. Their communities have their own distinct political, legal, social, cultural, and economic systems. There can be no one-size-fits-all, pan-Indigenous approach. Solutions must instead be culturally appropriate to First Nations, Métis, and Inuit women and girls, their respective communities, and their Nations.

Learn more about The Mandate of the National Inquiry

Watch: Missing and Murdered Aboriginal Women in Canada (2016, 12mins)

Friday June 24

Film: We Were Children

In this feature film, the profound impact of the Canadian government’s residential school system is conveyed through the eyes of two children who were forced to face hardships beyond their years. As young children, Lyna and Glen were taken from their homes and placed in church-run boarding schools, where they suffered years of physical, sexual and emotional abuse, the effects of which persist in their adult lives. We Were Children gives voice to a national tragedy and demonstrates the incredible resilience of the human spirit.

Warning: this film contains disturbing content and is recommended for audiences 16 years of age and older. Parental discretion, and/or watching this film within a group setting, is strongly advised. If you need counselling support, please contact counselling [at]

Watch We Were Children (2012, 1hr 23mins)

To continue to learn more about National Indigenous History Month: 
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Follow us on Twitter: IESS Twitter

Questions? Contact Indigenous Awareness Programmer:
Amanda Aitchison
Phone: 905-575-1212 x4318
Email: amanda.aitchison2 [at] 

Event Details

Mohawk College
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