June 21 is National Indigenous Peoples Day

June 12, 2019

June 21 is National Indigenous Peoples Day, a day for all Canadians to recognize and celebrate the unique heritage, diverse cultures and outstanding contributions of First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples. National Indigenous Peoples Day (formerly National Aboriginal Day) was announced in 1996 through a proclamation by then Governor General of Canada, Roméo LeBlanc. The proclamation was signed after consultations with various Indigenous groups. June 21, the summer solstice, was selected due to its cultural significance for many Indigenous peoples and communities.

Indigenous peoples in Canada have faced historic oppression and systemic barriers that hinder their access to high-quality, well-funded public services, including health care. Advocating for access to high-quality health care for all means supporting and recognizing the unique experiences of the First Nations, Inuit and Métis nurses in our union. ONA strives to create space and support for our Indigenous members through the Members of Indigenous Descent Caucus Group, which meets at our Human Rights and Equity Caucus each year.

Susan Archibald, ONA’s representative for members of Indigenous backgrounds on our Human Rights and Equity Team, shared her personal experiences as an Indigenous woman facing discrimination in the health-care system with the team last year. Her story had such an impact it was instrumental in developing the 2017 Human Rights and Equity Caucus theme, We Need to Talk: Understanding the Reality of Stereotyping. Archibald also shared her experiences in the broader context of the stereotyping of Canada’s Indigenous peoples to Caucus delegates with her counselor Trish Meekins.

We encourage all of our members to take the time to engage with Indigenous cultural celebrations, be willing to learn, but also reflect on the issues faced by Indigenous communities and the intersection with your practice.


We encourage ONA members, family, and friends to join us and other allies in celebrating National Indigenous Peoples Day. Now is the time to start preparing to attend an event or parade in your area.

National Indigenous Peoples Day ceremonies and cultural events are held across Canada. If you are looking for one in your community, many are posted on the Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada website.

Because parades and 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.

See below for details about National Indigenous Peoples Day 2018 events: Check back soon as the event listing will be updated as information becomes available.

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

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, contact team members, 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 Indigenous Peoples Day.

Check out the Canadian Indigenous Nurses Association's (CINA) Twitter account for the latest news and issues impacting Canada's Indigenous nurses and the health-care system. You can also visit their website here.

Visit the Canadian Nurses Association website for resources and information on Indigenous Health in Canada.

CBC News interviewed Indigenous nurses on their unique experiences. They spoke about the need to increase the number of Indigenous nurses to change the health-care system and fight against discrepancies between the health care provided to Indigenous and non-Indigenous people. Click here for the complete article.

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.

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada published 94 Calls to Action on how to commit to reconciliation at all levels of governance.



ONA has prepared English and French versions of our National Indigenous Peoples Day poster. Below you will find two versions of the poster: a generic poster (PDF) and one 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.

We have also created this shareable image that you can download and post to your social media accounts. Show your support and spread the word about this important day!