Here’s what’s happening in the NWT for Indigenous Peoples Day

K'alemi Dene honours teaching in the "Dene way." (Francis Tessier-Burns/CKLB).

Nationwide, Canadians celebrate Indigenous Peoples Day (Aboriginal Day) to honour the distinct culture, traditions and knowledge of Indigenous Peoples.

Moreover, residents in the NWT get an opportunity to show their pride, in a time of COVID-19 where things like celebrations and rituals are limited.

Many will choose to wear the colour orange to remember all residential school victims and survivors, especially the 215 children recently discovered at Kamloops Residential school in B.C.

“This day recognizes a nation that withstood every weapon against the Dene and is still standing . . . that is why today is important,” says Dene National Chief Norman Yakeleya.

Here’s a list of some of the celebrations taking place in the NWT for Indigenous Peoples Day.


Lı́ı́dlı̨ı̨ Kų́ę́

The celebration in Lı́ı́dlı̨ı̨ Kų́ę́ kicks off with a fire feeding ceremony at 10 a.m. at the Arbor.

A barbecue will be provided to residents around 11:30 p.m., followed by community games and events.

Some of the events include archery, sack races and a balloon fight.

At 6:30 p.m. residents will get the chance to play Bingo over the radio with Beavertail Jamboree for the chance to win $4,000.

The night is scheduled to wrap up around 8 p.m. with a drum dance by the Fort Simpson Drummers.

The day is hosted by Lı́ı́dlı̨ı̨ Kų́ę́ First Nation.

Pehdzeh Ki First Nation, Wrigley

Pehdzeh Ki First Nation has a full day of events planned.

The day will start with an opening prayer around 1 p.m., followed by traditional games, a barbeque in the evening a  community movie night.

The band office is still unsure as to what movie will be chosen.

For more information please call the office at (867) 581-3321.

Fort Providence, Deh Gáh Got’ı̨ę First Nation

A community breakfast will be served between the hours of 9 a.m. and 12 p.m.

Residents are asked to bring their own plate, cup and utensils.

A fishing derby will be held between the hours of 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. – residents have the opportunity to win fishing gear.

Moose hair tufting, beadwork and face painting are just some of the cultural demonstrations taking place.

Johnny Landry will be playing live, starting at 3 p.m.

Other cultural events such as canoe racing and fish cooking begin in the afternoon from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m., followed by a large community feast and drum dance ceremony in the evening.

This event is hosted by the Deh Gáh Got’ı̨ę First Nation & Programs Metis Local #57, Incorporate Hamlet of Fort Providence, Northlands Utilities and Deh Gah Bridge Corporation.

Beaufort Delta


The Town of Inuvik will be hosting a drive-by barbecue in celebration of Indigenous Peoples Day.

“We gather to visit with family, friends and eat good food,” reads the community Facebook notice.

Fish fry, fry potatoes, hamburgers and hot dogs will be available to all residents.

The celebration will take place at 12 a.m. outside the Midnight Sun Complex.

The Town of Inuvik, Parks Canada, Gwich’in Tribal Council, Inuvialuit Community Corporation, Inuvik Native Band and Nihtat Gwich’in Council have provided the food.


The Hamlet of Aklavik will be hosting a take-out barbecue in honour of Indigenous Peoples Day.

The event will take place at Sittichinli Complex at 2 p.m.

Potato salad, burgers, hot dogs and pork chops are some of the items on the menu.

In addition, the hamlet of Aklavik office will be closed for the day.

For further information call Dean McLeod or Mary Gordon at 867- 978-2351.

North Slave


The City of Yellowknife has no official celebrations for Indigenous Peoples Day.

Alison Harrower is a spokesperson for the city.

“We all have a role to play in reconciliation, and the City is seeking to engage Yellowknifers as we roll out our Reconciliation Framework and Reconciliation Action Plan,” she says.

The City in previous years has supported the North Slave Métis Alliance and YKDFN, during its celebrations.

Yellowknives Dene First Nation (YKDFN)

Celebrations will kick off at the Wiiliideh site at 2 p.m.

A fire feeding ceremony and traditional games will take place throughout the day until about 9 p.m. and a cookout will be provided by YKDFN.


Colville Lake

The community of Colville Lake is preparing a cookout around noon in the middle of the community in celebration of Indigenous Peoples Day.

Skeet shooting, a canoe race, relay race and axe throwing are just some of the activities that will also be provided.

South Slave

Hay River, Kátł’odeeche First Nation 

All residents are welcome to a full day of activities provided by Kátł’odeeche First Nation (KFN).

Dene Games, live music, a fish fry station, drum dances, and a special tea dance to honour the children discovered at Kamloops Indian  Residential School will be some of the activities provided at the event, according to a Facebook post by KFN.

The celebration will begin at the Dene Wellness Centre and work its way down to the arbour and teepees.

Festivities begin at 11 a.m. and end at 7:30 p.m.

Fort Smith, Salt River First Nation

The Town of Fort Smith is hosting a community barbecue at the McPherson Park (beside the arena) between 12 a.m. and 4 p.m.

Each child under the age of 12 will also get a ballot for the chance to win a bike.

In addition, Gerald Poitras will be dj-ing for a few hours during the event.


The community of Enterprise will also not be participating in Indigneous Day festivities due to a staff shortage.

This is according to Senior administrative officer (SAO), Tammy Neal.



National Indigneous Day kicks off at the Cross at 1 p.m.

Checkers, bannock making and spear throwing are just some of the traditional games taking place at the event.

This event is hosted by the Tłı̨chǫ Government.

For more information, residents can contact Samantha Migwi at 867-573-3012.


The community of Gamètì will not be celebrating Indigneous Day due to not having a recreational coordinator in the community, according to SAO, Memory Murefu.

He said although he reached out to the Tłı̨chǫ Government for help to put on festivities,  he has yet to hear back.


The community of Wekweètì is hosting its festivities at the hockey rink at 1 p.m.

A mini hand game ceremony, canoe race and barbecue will be taking place.

The event is hosted by the Tłı̨chǫ Government.

About the Author

Mariah Caruso
Mariah Caruso is a digital journalist, originally from Toronto, Canada. She graduated from the University of Toronto with a Hons. Bachelor of Arts and completed her Journalism post-grad at Sheridan College. She has an insatiable appetite for life, storytelling, connecting to the people, and getting to the heart of the issue. Mariah is excited to begin her journey and career in Yellowknife, NWT, and get involved with the community. If you have a story idea, feel free to send her an email at