10 Ways to Celebrate the International Day of Indigenous People

By Jules Torti | August 8, 2022

The United Nations has acknowledged the powerful role of indigenous women as keepers of irreplaceable wisdom by designating August 9th as the International Day of Indigenous People. 

Ancestral stories and history run as deep as tree roots, lakes and volcanoes. Indigenous knowledge flavours generational recipes. It fills drum beats and songs with tangible emotion. It speaks even louder through textiles, traditional tattoos and symbolic soapstone carvings. It’s captured in tea-steeping, ceremonial offerings, cacao harvesting, weaving looms, traditional medicines and observations of changing wildlife patterns due to climate change.

Whether you buy a fair trade chocolate bar from Peru, order a cup of ethical Tanzanian coffee or listen to throat singers for the afternoon, curiosity and learning are an integral part of celebrating the indigenous voices, talent and resilience of Incan to Inuk women.

Here are 10 ideas on how to celebrate this monumental International Day of Indigenous People:

1. Go there!

Explore WWE destinations that offer intimate community experiences, homestays and visits to women’s cooperatives in the Arctic, Peru, Tanzania and New Zealand. Learn about ivory scrimshaw art in Kimmirut on the Heart of the Arctic small ship expedition, visit the indigenous women of the Uros Floating Islands on the Treasures of Ancient Peru or meet the weavers of the Huayllarocha community who carry on the legacy of weaving on backstrap looms using locally-sourced vegetable dyes on the Salkantay Trek to Machu Picchu. Discover the edible art of cheesemaking on the Tanzania Trek and Safari under Mama Ana’s tutelage at Agape Women’s Cooperative. She schooled herself and started a cheese factory! Or, feel the power of Maori history in a double-hulled canoe on a Maori Waka! Each paddle begins with a blessing and a lesson on Waka etiquette (Tikanga) on the Crystal Coast New Zealand Adventure.

2. Watch Martha of the North

Image credit: MUBI

Triggered by her grandfather’s legendary film Nanook of the North, Martha Flaherty, an Inuit Cultural Educator on our Arctic small ship expeditions (in partnership with Adventure Canada)  produced her own film Martha of the North documenting her relocation experience. Prime Video allows you to create a “watch party” as well so you can share the experience virtually and have a discussion (via group chat) about the film.

Fun fact: Popcorn is historically, a genuine indigenous snack. Kernels were thrown on hot stones to pop before being sifted and pounded into a powder that was mixed with water. Yeah, we know, extra butter, please.

3. Break the (wine) glass ceiling and then cut the red tape!

Nk’Mip Cellars in Osoyoos, BC, is one of North America’s first Indigenous-owned winery. Owned by the Osoyoos Indian Band, the bottles are symbolically named in respect of the mythical Thunderbird (Talon) and Dreamcatcher. The winery continues to provide financial security and employment opportunities for Band members.

Fun fact: Toronto’s Red Tape Brewery is a family-run, Indigenous-owned brewery (and living wage employer) that “creates small-batch, custom beer for life’s milestones.”

4. Scratch Manuka off your honey to-do list! 

Your local health store should carry this on their shelves. The Manuka tree is native to New Zealand and is deeply connected to the indigenous Maori. The Maori call it ‘toanga’ or ‘treasure’ for its curative and healing properties. Maori boiled the inner bark of a manuka tree to treat stomach ailments and created balms for  wounds and burns. Rongoā, a traditional Maori medicinal practice, is seeing a renaissance and those who ‘prescribe’ to the plant-based remedies appreciate the whole body approach to wellness. Rongoā Māori intertwines herbal remedies, physical therapies and spiritual healing.

5. Pour it on…

Ask your local independent coffee shop if they support any women-led coffee collectives–if not, request that they do!

6. Stream or download a Tanya Tagaq album

The powerful Canadian Inuk throat singer from Cambridge Bay, Nunavut is a soundtrack that is a testament to her passion. As her bio suggests, “Tagaq is an original disruptor, a world-changing figure at the forefront of seismic social, political and environmental change.”

7. Read The Marrow Thieves by Cherie Dimaline

The Métis Nation writer’s futuristic world considers what would happen if humans lost the ability to dream. In her novel, dreamlessness leads to widespread madness and “the only people still able to dream are North America’s Indigenous people, and it is their marrow that holds the cure for the rest of the world.” Whoa.

8. Check out a women’s box lacrosse game on CBC Sports

The 2022 Canada Games in Niagara, Ontario will feature the first-ever women’s lacrosse competition and the return of men’s lacrosse after 37 years.  The indigenous-rooted sport is often referred to as the Medicine Game as it symbolizes a spiritual ritual to honor, heal, and celebrate individuals and communities.

9. Make a batch of Aji Verde!

Cilantro + jalapeno + garlic + lime–there’s magic in that mix. This is a classic hot + spicy Peruvian condiment that will add a global bite to whatever you’re serving. You can instantly taste a country and its heritage in a recipe. Travel somewhere tonight with a new cookbook!

10. Sit in on a free group webinar

Courtesy of the National Gallery of Canada,  Indigenous Perspectives focuses on the diversity of artists from Turtle Island including worldviews and artwork of First Nations, Métis and Inuit artists, past and present.

You can also visit the online collection at the Native Women’s Association of Canada gallery and purchase prints, textiles or sculptures that are currently on display at the new Social and Economic Innovation Centre in Gatineau, Quebec.