June 21 is the longest day of the year and marks the changing of seasons; the summer solstice marks the official start of summer. It is also a very important day for Aboriginal people (First Nation, Métis, Inuit — all of whom have distinct traditions and languages in their respective jurisdictions) because for generations, many Aboriginal groups have celebrated their culture and heritage at this time of year. In 1982, this day was chosen to celebrate the land and the Aboriginal people and their culture. It is also a public (statutory) holiday in the Northwest Territories and Nunavut. Employees must be given a day off with pay. This is a sacred day for employees belonging to Canadian Inuit, Métis and First Nation communities; employers in other provinces and territories may have to accommodate employees who want to observe this day. Communities hold feasts and invite guests.
The Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada (AANDC) has a lot of information on Aboriginal arts, culture and heritage on their website
Aboriginal people play a vital role in Canada’s formative history and cultural identity. Lately, however, there has been no shortage of reports on the problems facing the Aboriginal people of Canada. For example, some of the issues facing Aboriginal people and all of Canada really, include, high number of unresolved cases of missing Aboriginal women; unequal access to Canada’s health system; mining projects and native land; higher level of incarceration and lower levels of education; higher rate of suicide; inadequate housing and crowded living conditions; lower income levels and higher rates of unemployment among others.
As the Centre for Social Justice stated, “non-Aboriginal Canadians are becoming more aware of the injustices that have and are occurring to Aboriginal peoples as well as the richness of Aboriginal cultures. Non-Aboriginal people can further support the healing process by continuing to learn about the experience of Aboriginal people in order to promote mutual understanding and respect.”