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Anishinaabe Giizhigad / National Indigenous Peoples Day

Part of the Eagle Staff, including beaded TMU letters, three feathers and red, yellow, white and black ribbons

Every year on June 21, we celebrate the unique heritage, diverse cultures and outstanding contributions of First Nations, Inuit and Métis Peoples. Every nation, community, and individual connected to them has their complex history and unique stories that challenge the misconception of a single Indigenous identity.

June 21 is also the summer solstice, the longest day of the year, and has great cultural significance to Indigenous Peoples. For many generations, Indigenous Peoples and communities across Turtle Island (North America) have held ceremonies to honour and celebrate their culture and heritage on or near this day.

How to celebrate

Thank you for attending this year’s event

A room full of people sitting on white chairs in a circle, watching a presentation.

On June 21, TMU hosted events on campus to recognize and honour Anishnaabe Giizhigat / National Indigenous Peoples Day as a community. All photos by Nadya Kwandibens, Red Works Photography.

Amy Desjarlais sings and plays the hand drum, standing in front of large “TMU” letters and the TMU eagle staff.

Amy Desjarlais Waabishka Kakaki Zhaawshko Shkeezhgokwe (White Raven Woman with Turquoise Eyes), lead, Rebirthed Teachings, Indigenous Initiatives, Office of the Vice-President, Equity and Community Inclusion (OVPECI), opened the day in song. One song was a love song for Mishomis Giizis (Grandparent Sun) offering thanks for their work, and building trust that the sun will rise every day. The other song "Mino bimaadiziwin" aligned with the theme of the day to celebrate the good things in life. You can listen to Amy’s songs on Apple Music (external link) .

Monica McKay speaks into a microphone with her palms open to the sky.

Monica McKay, director, Indigenous Initiatives, OVPECI, welcomed those in attendance. She reflected on the challenges and barriers she has faced since joining the university 30 years ago, ands celebrated the progress that has been made. Monica is from the Nisg̱a'a Nation in Laxgalts’ap (Greenville), British Columbia, and a proud member of the House of Heewa’a and the Gisk'aast Pdeek (Killer Whale Clan). TMU leaders Elder Dallaire, President Mohamed Lachemi and Provost Roberta Iannacito-Provenzano also provided remarks.

Michael Doxtater holds the One Dish wampum belt.

Attendees learned about the Skakeratshera'at / One Dish wampum covenant from Michael Doxtater, professor and head, Saagajiwe Indigenous Studios, The Creative School. He shared that the One Dish wampum recognizes that everyone living on this land "all eat from this One Dish". The treaty signifies a commitment to protect the land and its resources peacefully. Michael also shared teachings about the Two Row wampum and how the Canadian rafter was added by the Haudenosaunee to the continent-wide longhouse lodge in 1869.

 A group of community members sit at a table together making buttons.

Community members got creative together to make customized buttons to wear for themselves or share. Also celebrating Indigenous History Month and Pride Month in June, one of the button designs included the Two-Spirit Pride flag.

Abby Carpenter wears regalia as she teaches Pow Wow dancing to community members.

Abby Carpenter, president, Indigenous Law Student Association, Lincoln Alexander School of Law, taught attendees about Pow Wow dancing and regalia. She then led community members through a Pow Wow fitness class so they could try the dance for themselves.

 A group of children sit on the floor together as someone on a chair reads them a story.

The School of Early Childhood Studies Family Programs led a children’s storytime circle. They read a selection of stories including "It’s a Mitig!" by Bridget George, an Anishinaabe author-illustrator and graphic designer. Each of the books read highlighted Indigenous authors, illustrators and stories.

 Waasekom and Crystal Osawamick stand in front of the TMU letter with the TMU eagle staff, buffalo skull and medicine wheel blanket.

Master of ceremonies, Waasekom (Edward George) and Crystal Osawamick with the TMU eagle staff, buffalo skull, and blessed water from the sunrise ceremony. Waasekom is Anishinaabe of the Turtle Clan from the Saugeen First Nation and Stony Point First Nation. Crystal Osawamick Wiinkaushkwe (Sweetgrass Woman) is Anishinaabekwe from the Odawa Nation and is of the Turtle Clan. She is also the E-nankiid Anishinaabe Maawnjidowinan miiniwaa Shki-maajiishkaachiganan (Manager of Indigenous Events and Special Projects) within University Events and Ceremonies in the Office of the President, and led the National Indigenous Peoples Day organizing circle.

This event is organized by the National Indigenous Peoples Day organizing circle

This year’s event is organized by a collective of Indigenous and non-Indigenous colleagues, led by Crystal Osawamick, manager of Indigenous events and special projects. 

The collective includes staff from the Career, Co-op and Student Success; the Centre for Excellence in Learning and Teaching; The Creative School; the Indigenous Education Council; Office of the President; Office of the Provost; Office of the Vice-President, Equity and Community Inclusion, including Indigenous Initiatives and Gdoo-maawnjidimi Mompii Indigenous Student Services; Saagajiwe; School of Early Childhood Studies; Student Affairs; Student Life and Learning Support; Ted Rogers School of Management; and TMU Libraries. 


If you have any questions, please email Crystal Osawamick, manager of Indigenous events and special projects at

Past events

Community members gathering in the Student Learning Centre for the event

On June 21, 2023, the TMU community packed the Student Learning Centre 8th floor to celebrate Indigenous history and culture for National Indigenous Peoples Day. All photos by Alyssa K. Faoro.

A community member talking to a vendor with handmade jewellery on the table

Throughout the day, community members shopped from local Indigenous-owned businesses selling handmade products like earrings, necklaces, clothing, hair accessories and dreamcatchers.

Michael Etherington and Brandon Tehanyatarí:ya’ks Martin holding a blue wampum belt in front of attendees

Brandon Tehanyatarí:ya’ks Martin (right), a professor in the Department of Languages, Literatures and Cultures in the Faculty of Arts, gave a presentation on five wampum belts at TMU, including four replicas and one real belt. Attendees could touch and feel the wampum belts and learn about each belt's meaning, history and treaties.

Three Indigenous youth from the 2-Spirited People of the 1st Nations drum group performing in front of the audience

Indigenous youth from the 2-Spirited People of the 1st Nations (external link)  drum group performed songs using traditional hand drums and a shaker.

Michael Etherington and community members playing a game together

Master of ceremonies Michael Etherington (right), taught attendees a community game and held a goose-calling contest.

Three Indigenous youth from the Outside Looking In dance in front of the audience

Three Indigenous youth from the Outside Looking In (external link)  dance troupe danced to a mashup of hip-hop songs. They also shared how the Indigenous-led organization has impacted their lives and given them the confidence and support to thrive.

Community members serve themselves food at the buffet

Hiawatha’s Catering, an Indigenous caterer from Wahnapitae First Nation, in Ontario, provided a delicious feast. Crystal Osawamick prepared a spirit plate, and Amy Desjarlais prayed with it and offered it to the land to feed the spirits, the ancestors and spiritual helpers at the gathering.

Mohamed Lachemi, TMU president, speaking at the microphone next to the eagle staff

TMU president Lachemi thanked the community for coming together to celebrate, learn and reflect and thanked the organizing committee for their hard work and dedication.

Amy Desjarlais singing into a microphone

Amy Desjarlais, the lead facilitator of Rebirthed Teachings, opened the event with a song and welcoming words and closed the event with a prayer, closing remarks and her song Looking Forward, a travelling song.