A twirling Indigenous dancer wearing colourful footwear and clothing.

Ottawa | Destination Ontario

Indigenous events and celebrations

A twirling Indigenous dancer wearing colourful footwear and clothing.

Ottawa | Destination Ontario

Several upcoming festivals and events in Ontario celebrate Indigenous culture and the contributions, accomplishments and talent of First Nations, Inuit and Métis Peoples in theatre, film, music and science.

Find more unique events, tours and attractions at IndigenousExperienceOntario.ca.

Summer Solstice Indigenous Festival

Honour National Indigenous Peoples Day on June 21 in Ottawa this year during the Summer Solstice Indigenous Festival.

A free, family-friendly event, the festival celebrates First Nations, Inuit and Métis cultures, knowledge, art and heritage with musical performances, culinary experiences, art and craft workshops and an International Competition Pow Wow.

Shop for jewellery, artwork and handicrafts in the online Indigenous Marketplace and order CDs and merchandise from your favourite participating musicians. 

Summer Solstice Festivals are produced by Indigenous Experiences on behalf of the National Indigenous Peoples Day Committee (NIPD) and hosted by The National Association of Friendship Centres. The festival is held on the traditional and unceded territories of the Algonquin Peoples.

When: June 21-25, 2023
Where: Mādahòkì Farm, Ottawa

Nogojiwanong Indigenous Fringe Festival (NIFF)

Take in theatre, music, poetry, dance and more performed by Indigenous multi-disciplinary artists and actors from across Ontario at this uncensored Indigenous fringe festival. 

Several companies are scheduled to perform during the five-day festival following a special opening ceremony to kick off the event and commemorate Indigenous Peoples Day. 

Fringe festivals are uncensored, experimental theatre experiences that explore non-traditional styles and themes and support independent companies and artists. NIFF is a member of the Canadian Association of Fringe Festivals.

Shows will take place in an outdoor venue adjacent to the Enwayaang Building of Gzowski College, in the East Bank campus of Trent University in Peterborough. Get your tickets online from the Showplace Performance Centre.

Trent University is located on the treaty and traditional territory of the Michi Saagiig Anishinaabeg and Chippewa Nations, collectively known as the Williams Treaties First Nations.

When: June 21-25, 2023
Where: Peterborough

Misko-Aki: Confluence of Cultures

Misko-Aki: Confluence of Culture is one of three new exhibits at the Muskoka Discovery Centre in Gravenhurst telling The Muskoka Story.

Curated by Tim Johnson, the exhibit covers the Indigenous history in Muskoka for over 10,000 years. It also educates settlers on the significance of, and respect for, the traditional inhabitants of the lands and waterways of the region.

The second two displays are Life on the Edge of the Shield: 250 years of settler history and Wanda III: Steam to Green featuring the electrification of a steamship.

When: Opens early July, 2023
Where: Muskoka Discovery Centre, 275 Steamship Bay Road, Gravenhurst

Weengushk International Film Festival (WIFF)

The Weengushk International Film Festival is an important, not for profit, Indigenous-run independent film festival and cultural event. It featuring award winning and burgeoning filmmakers and Indigenous leaders in 57 films, five workshops, four musical performances, opening night and a gala awards event.

When: July 14-16, 2023
Where: Manitoulin Island

Grand River Champion of Champions Pow Wow

Experience the rich culture and heritage of the Six Nations of Grand River at the Champion of Champions Pow Wow near Brantford. Witness the dazzling display of incredibly talented competitive dancers from across Canada and the US.

Pow wows are social and spiritual gatherings of Indigenous peoples to honour their heritage and nature, renew friendships and celebrate with music, song, food, dance and storytelling. For non-Indigenous people, attending a pow wow is a great privilege. The master of ceremonies will provide cues to the audience on when to stand in respect, when to be silent and when photography is permitted.

The Champion of Champions Pow Wow is a long-standing tradition held at Chiefswood Park in the Six Nations of the Grand River Community with open-air events, food stalls and craft vendors.

When: July 21-23, 2023
Where: Ohsweken

Wake the Giant

Celebrating culture and inclusivity, this music festival focuses on creating a platform to amplify the voices of Indigenous artists, musicians and dancers.

Enjoy energizing shows by Indigenous and non-Indigenous performers, Indigenous dance, local food, a craft market and other merchandise in a welcoming environment. 

The city of Thunder Bay is located on the traditional territory of the Anishinabek Nation, which includes the Ojibwa of Fort William First Nation, signatory to the Robinson-Superior Treaty of 1850. 

When: September 16, 2023
Where: Thunder Bay Waterfront

imagineNATIVE Film + Media Arts Festival

Explore provocative, inspiring, innovative and original cinema during imagineNATIVE, the world’s largest Indigenous film and media arts festival held annually in Toronto.

The festival shines a spotlight on Indigenous media artists, filmmakers, storytellers and thought leaders from Canada and around the world and celebrates their work in film, video, radio and digital media. imagineNATIVE aims to foster a "greater understanding of Indigenous peoples, cultures, and artistic expressions." 

In addition to what’s on-screen, check out the apparel and accessories collections, as well as artist collaborations and publications in the online festival store

imagineNATIVE takes place on land that is the traditional territory of the Anishinaabe, Haudenosaunee, Huron-Wendat and the Mississaugas of the Credit.

When: October 17-29, 2023
Where: Toronto

Indigenous Ingenuity: Timeless Inventions Travelling Exhibition

Drawing from nature and passed on from generation to generation, Indigenous knowledge, skills, inventions and creativity are vast and timeless.

Developed by the Montreal Science Centre, the Indigenous Ingenuity: Timeless Inventions exhibition was showcased in Ontario earlier this year, presented by Indigenous Tourism Ontario (ITO) and Science North and hosted at the Thunder Bay Art Gallery. 

The interactive and engaging exhibit explored First Nation, Inuit and Métis cultures and knowledge from a scientific perspective using principles of observation and experimentation.

For those who did not get to see it or those who want to experience it again, Science North and ITO co-developed a customized, travelling version of the exhibit promoting Indigenous cultures and innovation. Accompanied by dedicated staff, Indigenous Ingenuity will tour over a dozen communities across Northern Ontario.

Watch a video about the exhibition

When: September 2022 to June 2024
Where: various communities in Northern Ontario, upcoming locations include:
Cutler (Serpent River): March 29 to April 15
M’Chigeeng: April 21 to May 19
North Bay: May 26 to July 3
Parry Sound: July 9 to August 13
Gravenhurst: September 21 to October 26

Last updated: October 10, 2023

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