Our Indigenous friends, coworkers and the larger community are an essential part of Canada’s culture, history and future. That’s why, in cooperation with Indigenous organizations, Canadians officially recognize June as National Indigenous History Month and June 21st as National Indigenous Peoples Day. This day is for Canadians to recognize and celebrate the contributions, unique heritage and diverse cultures of Inuit, Métis and First Nations peoples.
To help you celebrate National Indigenous People’s Day at work this June – and throughout the year – we’ve come up with seven ideas that will engage, educate and inspire your team.
Why do we celebrate National Indigenous Peoples Day?
Although Indigenous groups in Canada are distinct in their own heritage, cultural practices, spiritual beliefs and languages, they share many similarities – in particular, the grave historical injustices perpetrated against them by colonists. Indigenous Peoples Day is an opportunity to learn about and honor the many historical and cultural contributions of Indigenous communities – and celebrate their rich heritage and resilience.
Why is Indigenous Peoples Day celebrated on the summer solstice?
For centuries, many of the first inhabitants celebrated the arrival of the warm weather and the pleasures of the summer solstice – the day of the year with the most light. The solstice is a day of spiritual significance for many Indigenous people and is an excellent time to celebrate Indigenous peoples and cultures.
7 ways to celebrate National Indigenous Peoples Day in the workplace
- Host an office potlatch
The potlatch (from the Chinook word Patshatl) is a cultural ceremony integral to the governing structure and spiritual traditions of various First Nations living on the Northwest Coast and in parts of the interior western subarctic. It was a time to share food, gifts and money. Although similar to a potluck, which is a European tradition, a potlatch originates with First Nations.
Organize a potlach for the team on National Indigenous Peoples Day – have everyone bring in their favorite dish to share with the team. Create a sign-up list for food items so you don’t have multiples of the same things.
A food gathering is a great way to bring your crew together, socialize over some delicious delectables and discuss the day’s significance. You can decorate with posters and cultural memorabilia to bring awareness and boost the festive spirit.
Alternatively, browse the Thriver marketplace for catering providers and have your food delivered right to the office – fresh and ready for you.
- Play Indigenous history trivia
Learning is fun, and what better way to gain some knowledge and insight into Indigenous peoples and their culture than an exciting trivia game? There are many online trivia games you can find on the Thriver marketplace – like this one – that test your knowledge of Indigenous peoples, their heritage, history, language and cultures. Gather the team together, get some unique prizes and snacks, and have fun learning about our Indigenous friends and their contributions to our beautiful nation.
- Host an Indigenous game night
There are many Indigenous games you can discover and introduce to your team. Do some research into your locality to find out who your Indigenous peoples are (if you don’t already know). If you can, invite an Indigenous leader to show your crew how to play one or more traditional games. Incorporate some Indigenous snacks and prizes – and maybe ask your guest to share the history and cultural significance behind the games.
Who doesn’t love a good story? Indigenous stories are rich and incorporate tales of how our land was created, how the sun and moon came to be, how coyotes became so shy, why bears sleep so much and other such happenings.
Invite a local Indigenous storyteller into the office to entertain and teach your staff about their culture and experiences. This is a sure-fire way to impart knowledge of Indigenous culture and history to your team. Add some Indigenous snacks and food, like bannock and maple taffy, and you’ll have an activity your crew will remember long after June 21.
- Put on a cultural awareness seminar
Host a virtual cultural awareness workshop from the Thriver marketplace. This seminar empowers individuals with the baseline knowledge and skills they need to participate in conversations related to Indigenous matters, both within and outside of the workplace.
Your team will learn about the many hardships Indigenous peoples have faced throughout the years and still face today. They’ll learn how to properly use terminology and gain a better understanding of fundamental issues like systemic racism and intergenerational trauma, so they feel comfortable joining conversations about Indigenous topics.
A workshop like this helps both the Indigenous and non-Indigenous people in your workforce better understand each other and create an inclusive, harmonious environment.
- Engage in the community
Get involved in the community. Host a fundraiser for an Indigenous organization, sponsor an Indigenous event or offer your team a paid day off so they can commemorate the day how they wish. Do a quick Google search for festivals and activities in your community. There’s no shortage of ways to get involved and celebrate across Canada and show your solidarity with the Indigenous community.
- Create a pledge
Bring the team together and brainstorm ways to help your organization contribute meaningfully to reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples, such as a Land Acknowledgement Statement or a Pledge of Reconciliation, and keep it where everyone can see. Check in on a regular basis to see how your company is doing overall. This is a great way to build awareness and foster creativity, empathy and collaboration.
Make an event out of it with snacks from one of Thriver’s trusted catering providers, or book a guest speaker. An Indigenous movie can get your team inspired – Indian Horse, Angry Inuk or The Body Remembers When the World Broke Open are all excellent movie choices.
Celebrate, commemorate and educate with Thriver
There are many National Indigenous Peoples Day work activities to get your team engaged. Our land is built on the culture, heritage and traditions of Indigenous populations, and Thriver strives to help you create meaningful programming to make your office a safe place of inclusivity and diversity.
Our team-building and cultural awareness offerings make it easy to bring your group together for events, food and activities that are interesting, informative and in line with your corporate values. Browse the Thriver marketplace for more ideas and inspiration for celebrating Indigenous Peoples Day and other important cultural holidays at work.