June 15, 2021

This piece was originally published in SAY Magazine on June 12, 2021.

By Nahka Bertrand, Communications Assistant, APTN


Featuring many of Turtle Island’s up-and-coming and established Indigenous artists in a new and creative way, this year’s pre-recorded adaptation of IDL honours our Peoples’ milestones, highlights the power of collaboration and showcases Indigenous cultures.

The 25th NIPD coincides with the delayed celebrations of Manitoba’s 150th anniversary, which were postponed by a year due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

“Over the past year, we have all come to realize how important human connection truly is. We hope that the spirit of collaboration on APTN Indigenous Day Live 2021 will help carry us all to brighter days ahead,” said Daniel Roy, IDL 2021’s artistic director.

Featuring Snotty Nose Rez Kids, Tom Wilson, iskwē, Neon Dreams, Julian Taylor and Charlotte Cardin, and hosted by Saddle Lake’s Earl Wood and Winnipeg’s Janelle Wookey, IDL 2021 promises to ignite your summer with a unique celebration.

IDL 2021 pairs Indigenous artists with Canadian music icons for a refreshing line-up of collaborations in English, French and Indigenous languages on five stages across the country. Rising star Anachnid, nominated for a Prix Félix in the category Indigenous Artist of the Year at the ADISQ gala, partners with internationally celebrated chanteuse Charlotte Cardin. JUNO-nominated Cree-Métis singer songwriter iskwē performs with famed rock musician Tom Wilson on this year’s stage. Accomplished artist Syreeta Hector dances to Cris Derksen’s genre-defying cello and Ulali’s globetrotting Pura Fé joins Sol James in song.

“It was wonderful,” Pura Fé said about pre-recording her performance for IDL 2021. “It was great to get the call, even though the show was short and sweet. I would like to work with Sol again. She’s very open and pretty amazing actually. Working with all the musicians was great, and being doted on was too. For me, it was a real Cinderella moment!”

Tribute segments for Manitoba’s sesquicentennial and the 25th anniversary of NIPD are woven throughout IDL 2021, portraying the history of Indigenous Peoples and their contributions to Canada over the past 25 years, 150 years, and beyond. The first tribute segment in honour of Manitoba 150 highlights the crucial role of Louis Riel and the Métis People in the foundation of the province of Manitoba, which means “the path of the Creator” in Anishinaabemowin. It takes a look at who, where and what the Métis People are today.

Louis Riel famously said in 1885, “My people will sleep for 100 years, but when they awake, it will be the artists who give them their spirit back.” In reflecting on Manitoba’s 150th anniversary, host Janelle Wookey penned a poem that speaks to what it means to share and connect with Métis history.

“As Métis people, we get asked again and again what it means to us to be Métis,” Wookey explained. “It’s always been a weird, anxiety-inducing, existential question to me, but I feel like I got close to finding my answer in researching and writing this piece. To me, being Métis is about being part of a community. In our case, a community of people who happen to share a rich and important history and strong, resilient ancestors. Those individuals are a part of us. We are connected through them, and I feel it’s our responsibility to honour them and their sacrifices by continuing to acknowledge and celebrate our existence as Métis People—through community. If there’s one thing we’ve learned in recent times, it is that community is so, so important.”

The second tribute segment looks back on the history of NIPD, while looking forward to the future. After recommendations from the Assembly of First Nations and the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples, June 21, 1996, marked the first-ever National Aboriginal Day (now designated as National Indigenous Peoples Day). The segment salutes the creation of this day, 25 years ago, as a way for all Canadians to recognize and celebrate the unique heritage, diverse cultures and outstanding contributions of First Nations, Inuit and Métis Peoples. June 21 marks the coming of the summer solstice and the longest day of light. The summer solstice is culturally significant to many Indigenous cultures. In the spirit of all good things to come, APTN welcomes the coming season.

After 25 years of celebrating Indigenous Peoples on June 21, what has it come to mean?

“For me the meaning of National Indigenous Peoples Day transcends the day itself,” explained Roy. “It recognizes the First Peoples of this land, and the diverse cultures and languages that shine bright. It is important to understand the colonial history of this country and the impact it still has on relations between Indigenous Peoples and settler populations. Beyond the celebration and recognition, my hope is that we all find ways to personally engage in the path forward. National Indigenous Peoples Day is about momentum and hope, and that is how APTN Indigenous Day Live 2021 plans to celebrate with everyone!”

Don’t miss the opportunity to celebrate IDL 2021 with APTN! Join the conversation on Twitter or Instagram by tagging your posts with #IDL2021.

For more information and the complete IDL 2021 roster, please visit indigenousdaylive.ca.


APTN invites you to tune in to the APTN Indigenous Day Live 2021 festivities on June 20, 2021!

Join in the IDL celebrations on Sunday, June 20, 2021, from 8:00 p.m. to 11:30 p.m. ET on APTN, APTN lumi and on participating Indigenous radio stations. The 3.5 hour event repeats on June 21, 2021.

IDL 2021 will be available for free on APTN lumi from June 20 at 8:00 p.m. ET until June 22 at 8:00 p.m. ET. The broadcast will then be available with an APTN lumi subscription.