Statement on National Indigenous Peoples Day

The month of June is designated as National Indigenous Peoples Month, with the June 21 designated specifically as a day to celebrate Indigenous Peoples. The Centre acknowledges that Survivors, Indigenous community members and Indigenous Peoples across Canada, who have direct ties to the residential school system, may experience this day differently than those who are just beginning their learning. The Centre recognizes the diversity in backgrounds, perspectives and ways of knowing of all those engaging with National Indigenous Peoples Day 2021.

While the goal of the month is both to uplift Indigenous voices and educate non-Indigenous people, the Centre recognizes that this year these conversations will feel much heavier for most Indigenous Peoples and communities impacted by the recent discoveries in Kamloops, Brandon,and elsewhere. 

On this day and always, the Centre stands with Survivors and families who have always known what the rest of the world is only just now coming to terms with. Resilience and strengthening cultural practices are important in connection with witnessing and truth-telling, and necessary for many with the grief and heartbreak for these losses. With the authors of “Pulling Together: A Guide for Leaders and Administrators” we value Richard Wagemese’s meditation from his 2016 book Embers.

For you today, my friends, I raise sacred smoke. For you who are troubled confused, doubtful, lonely, afraid, addicted, unwell, bothered or alone, I raise sacred smoke. For those of you in sorrow, grief or pain, I raise sacred smoke. For those of you who work for people, for change, for spiritual evolution, for upward and onward growth of our common humanity and the well-being of our planet, I raise sacred smoke. For those of you in joy, in the glow of small or great triumphs, who live in love, faith, courage and respect, I raise sacred smoke. And, in the act of all this, I raise also for myself.

– Richard Wagamese (Embers, 2016, p. 86)

Since before confederation, Indigenous Peoples have worked tirelessly against the massive forces of colonial violence, structural racism and injustice. Today is a good day to honour that vital work, and to witness and be mindful of the ways in which the federal government has failed to properly address the ongoing impacts of the residential school system, the Sixties scoop, the child welfare system, and other critical issues affecting the health and wellness of Indigenous people and communities. For all, this could be a time to reflect on the efforts and accomplishments of the generations before us. 

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada released its 94 Calls to Action six years ago, and while Indigenous Peoples and communities have continued to push for progress more action is needed. Calls are going out for dedicated resources from the federal government. Similarly, the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (MMIWG) released its 231 Calls to Justice two years ago, however, little progress has been made. Indigenous communities are still disproportionally affected by high rates of violence, incarceration and homelessness. Indigenous children are still disproportionately apprehended into custody and taken from their homes. Many Indigenous communities are still without access to clean drinking water.  

This is a day for all Canadians to celebrate, uplift, and support the diversity and resilience of Indigenous cultures and communities. However, we are reminded that today must also be a day that we make time to pause and reflect on the legacy and ongoing impacts of the residential school system and colonialism. For some people and communities, it is a time of mourning and they may be unable to celebrate at this moment. Indigenous Peoples have an intergenerational legacy of reframing complex moments of commemoration, grief and celebration to assert their sovereignty and demand recognition of their rights.   

To engage in meaningful dialogue and enact change, we must confront and examine the historical attitudes and root causes that led us here – ignorance, racism, sexism, discrimination. All citizens – particularly UBC students, faculty, and staff – must think critically about how systems of oppression intersect with our identities, and most importantly, we must act. Self-education is crucial, especially when gaps are identified, to show support when called upon, and to heal and practice self-care when necessary.  

With this in mind, the Centre is highlighting some suggested resources for education, advocacy, and wellness to aid in this work. Consider making a commitment to future events throughout the year.  

For Indigenous people, perhaps consider an intergenerational commitment to seek hope and insight from Indigenous people who are outside of your usual circle. 

For non-Indigenous people, consider seeking the Indigenous voices in your circles and scheduling Indigenous events, podcasts, and books into your life.  

 “Hope and change are always the purpose in doing this work, and real change requires a foundation of truth and knowledge. “ – Their Voices Will Guide Us – Student and Youth Engagement Guide.  


Content warning: Some of the resources collected here deal explicitly with impacts of the Residential School System on individuals and communities, as well as violence against Indigenous women, girls and 2SLGBTQQIA+.

Virtual Events and Workshops

  • National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation “Decolonizing the Lens” film event, 6 p.m. Central Time 
  • City of Vancouver, Carnegie Community Centre and UBC Learning Exchange virtual event: Monday, June 21 from 12-2 p.m. 
  • Vancouver Art Gallery virtual event: Monday, June 21 at 4 p.m. 
  • City of Surrey, National Indigenous Peoples Day virtual event: Monday, June 21. Kids Show: 10:50-11:30 a.m., Main Event: 6-7:30 p.m. 
  • Richmond Public Library online story times will feature picture books by Indigenous authors. Monday, June 21 to Friday, June 25, for more information and how to register, visit the library’s event calendar:
  • Summer Solstice Indigenous Festivals:

Exploring Multigenerational stories 


  • UBC Library’s Research guide features a comprehensive list of podcasts and new media by Indigenous creators and artists – Podcasts – Indigenous New Media – Research Guides at University of British Columbia (
  • The Truth Sharing Podcasts (Partage des vérités): The Truth Sharing Podcasts is a project inspired by the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, that gives life to the truth and creates a living legacy of commemoration. This series of podcasts visited five Canadian communities to seek out and give voice to those who have experienced loss, examine the ways in which those affected are trying to heal, and shine a light on those trying to bring about positive change: The Truth Sharing Podcasts (Partage des vérités) (
  • Historica Canada’s Residential School Podcast Series: Hosted by Shaneen Robinson-Desjarlais, this podcast series provides insights into the specific impacts and experiences of the Residential School System on First Nations, Métis, and Inuit respectively: Residential Schools Podcast Series | The Canadian Encyclopedia
  • ‎Coffee with my Ma: A podcast created by actress Kaniehtiio Horn that places the audience at the kitchen table with her and her mom, Kahn-Tineta Horn. Kahn-Tineta Horn has always told great stories about her life as a model in the 1960s, and as a fierce advocate for Mohawk rights. Now her daughter, actress Kaniehtiio Horn, wants the world to hear them on her podcast: ‎Coffee With My Ma on Apple Podcasts
  • The Secret Life of Canada podcast offers a quick overview of the Indian Act, the primary legislation governing the lives of First Nations people in Canada. This act has been foundational in destabilizing Indigenous sovereignty, and its policies have enabled monumental injustices against Indigenous peoples for generations, especially Indigenous women. 

Suggested Books and Readings

  • UBC Learning Circle offers events and recordings for education, professional development and wellness. 
  • The Truth and Reconciliation Commission Report: Read and review the 94 calls to action; choose one and make a list of ways you can commit to enacting change in your community: Calls_to_Action_English2.pdf (
  • National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls Final Report. Content warning: this report contains information around violence towards Women, Girls and 2SLGBTQQIA+. The report provides stories from Survivors, Knowledge Keepers and Family members. This report brings attention to violence within Indigenous communities while outlining possible avenues for improvement. 
  • Vancouver Public Library, Indigenous People’s day book list – VPL – National Indigenous Peoples Day – June 21st 2018 | Vancouver Public Library | BiblioCommons
  • Xwi7xwa Library: Xwi7xwa has a substantial number of resources and books available that provide information about violence against Indigenous women, girls, and 2SLGBTQQIA+. These resources are limited during COVID but many can be found online – X̱wi7x̱wa Library | Xwi7xwa Library (

Health and Wellness

For resources for finding mental, emotional and cultural support, please visit our health and wellness page.

  • National Indian Residential School Crisis Line – Indigenous Services Canada offers a national Indian Residential School Crisis Line to support former Residential School students. The crisis line provides emotional and crisis referral services 24 hours a day.
    • 1-866-925-4419
  • Indian Residential School Survivors Society (IRSSS) – provides essential services to Residential School Survivors, their families, and to those dealing with intergenerational traumas.
    • Main: (604) 985-4464
    • Toll free: 1-800-721-0066