June 21 is National Aboriginal Day

June 13, 2017

Since its inception, ONA has been a leader on human rights issues that affect not only our members, but all members of our society. In 2015, ONA launched a human rights and equity initiative to champion human rights causes even further and to highlight major human rights and equity observances including National Aboriginal Day.

June 21 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. NAD was announced in 1996 through a proclamation by then Governor General of Canada, Roméo LeBlanc.The proclamation was signed after consultations with various Aboriginal groups. June 21, the summer solstice, was selected due to its cultural significance for many Aboriginal peoples and communities.

Aboriginal peoples in Canada have faced historic oppression and systemic barriers that hinder their access to high-quality, well-funded public services, including health care. On June 11, 2008, the Canadian Government apologized to First Nations, Métis and Inuit People for the legacy of residential schools and policies that sought to assimilate Aboriginal peoples through the destruction of their culture and heritage. In January of 2016, the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal ruled that the federal government discriminates against First Nation children on reserves by failing to provide the same level of child welfare services that exist elsewhere.

Supporting access to high quality health care for all means recognizing the contributions of First Nations, Inuit and Métis nurses in our union. ONA strives to create space and support for our Aboriginal members through the Members of Aboriginal Descent Caucus Group, which meets at our Human Rights and Equity Caucus each year.


ONA encourages members, their families and friends to join us and other labour leaders in marking National Aboriginal Day. Now is the time to start preparing to attend an event in your community.

Because public events allow us to demonstrate our unwavering commitment to human rights before large public audiences, ONA will coordinate and fund registration fees for Locals/Bargaining Units that plan to participate, and where there are more than 40 member participants, an appropriate float/vehicle. Also remember that locals can apply for political action monies under policy 26.11 to Vicki McKenna before the event. Contact your bargaining unit president or local coordinator for more information.

National Aboriginal Day ceremonies are held across Canada. If you are looking for one in your community, many are posted on the Canadian Heritage website.

If you or your Local will be commemorating National Aboriginal Day in your community, please let us know by emailing webmaster@ona.org. We will post the details here for other members. We also invite you to submit any photos from your event - be sure to include the names and Local number with your submission.

See below for details about 2017 National Aboriginal Day events:

Information will be posted as it becomes available. Check back soon for updates.

Toronto: The City of Toronto will hold its Annual Sunrise Ceremony on Wednesday, June 21 at 5:30 a.m. at City Hall. This year's event includes the unveiling of five Indigenous flags in permanent locations on Nathan Phillips Square. The flags belong to the Indigenous groups both traditional and present today to this territory which include: The Mississaugas of the New Credit First Nation, Six Nations of the Grand River Territory First Nation, the Huron-Wendat-Wendake First Nation, The Métis Nation of Ontario and the Inuit. Click here for more information.

ONA Resources

ONA is committed to being an inclusive and equitable organization that recognizes membership diversity. Visit our Human Rights & Equity webpage to learn about the work being done by our Human Rights & Equity Team and to access valuable resources.

Check out our updated FAQ guides for ONA members and leaders to help recognize and deal with human rights issues including racial discrimination and harassment in the workplace.

Watch ONA's "Human Rights and Equity Caucus" video and learn more about the role we play in promoting equity and diversity for our members in the workplace and in the Union.

More Resources

Click here for more information about National Aboriginal Day.

Visit the Canadian Indigenous Nurses Association website for information, education opportunities and resources for Canada's Aboriginal nurses.

For more information about advocacy for First Nations peoples in Canada, see the website for the Assembly of First Nations.

Check out the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society of Canada website to learn about advocacy to support access and opportunities for First Nations children and youth.

To learn more about Aboriginal health promotion, visit the National Aboriginal Health Organization website.


ONA has prepared English and French versions of our National Aboriginal Day poster. Below you will find two versions of the poster, a generic poster (PDF) and a poster with a blank space at the bottom (Word) which Locals can customize with their own message and/or event details. Click on the document name below and download the PDF or Word document of your choosing.