The Canadian Olympic Committee (COC) is founded on the values and ideals of access, equity and sport for all – we recognize and celebrate our unique heritage, diverse culture and contributions made by everyone, and that includes the Indigenous peoples.

We acknowledge that systemic racism remains a significant threat to Indigenous peoples and communities in Canada. The COC is committed to combatting this through the power of sport.

We believe that sport is a powerful tool for building communities and addressing a broad range of social issues, including promoting health and wellness, fostering safer communities and improving education outcomes. In collaboration with the national sport community across Canada, the COC remains committed to improving access to sport for Indigenous peoples.

About National Indigenous Peoples Day

Every June 21st National Indigenous Peoples Day is celebrated to acknowledge the values, traditions and history of First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples and communities. This date acts as a symbolic day for its proximity to the summer solstice.

There are different ways that you can virtually celebrate with Indigenous communities, like learning about Indigenous history, learning Indigenous languages in your area or listening to music by Indigenous musicians. You can learn more about different ways to celebrate by checking out the Government of Canada website.

In Canada, the term Indigenous peoples refers to First Nations, Métis and Inuit peoples. These are the original inhabitants of the land that is now Canada

First Nations Peoples have over 630 communities in Canada with more than 50 Nations and Indigenous languages. To find out more about First Nations Peoples, you can learn more here.

Inuit Peoples, known as the Indigenous Peoples of the Arctic, have 53 communities across the northern regions of Canada in Inuit Nunangat, meaning “the place where Inuit live”. To better understand this community, you can check out the available educational resources here.

Métis Peoples are one of the three defined groups of Indigenous peoples, alongside First Nations and Inuit Peoples. This community originated largely in Western Canada. You can learn more about the Métis Peoples here.  

Team Canada Athlete Voices

Team Canada has several athletes that are proud members of Indigenous communities and several have spoken up about their heritage and provided  insight on their unique experiences and journeys. 

Mary Spencer shares her boxing gloves with a young student

Kitchenuhmayooosib Inninuwug, Canada. – Mary Spencer trains students on October 18, 2019. David Jackson for The Canadian Olympic Committee

From Mary Spencer, who shared her stories about perseverance in sport, to Waneek Horn-Miller and her sister’s perspective during the Oka Crisis, no story should go untold or unacknowledged.

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The words have been hard to come by these last few weeks, it is heart breaking, empowering and devastating all at once. I’m afraid, but I believe now it is more important than ever to share your voice. I am a native woman, my names are Ku’Laang Jaad and Malaga. They mean Precious Leader Woman and Mountain Goat in Haida and Kwakwaka’wakw. Today, I am proud to say those names, they are badges of honour to me. Not that long ago, they would have been something I avoided talking about. For the majority of my life I have struggled to understand this complex part of myself. Where I come from and what it means… If you want to continue reading swipe through the post to see more. I can’t begin to fathom the hate and discrimination that many POC experience, but this is a part of my story and I feel it shines a light on how close colonization and residential schools came to completely destroying a culture. If not for the leadership of my sisters @meghaanobrien and @nalagadesigns, I think I could have lost touch completely. Instead, I am finding a powerful part of myself that had been repressed for far too long. May we all be able to do the same and fight together. The system has failed us all, but together we can build a new one. #blacklivesmatter #indigenouslivesmatter #mmiw #sayhername #sayhisname

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More recently, we’ve seen the power that resonates from Spencer O’Brien’s voice on social media, as she speaks about her heritage and how she can be a role model through sport; while leading and advocating for Indigenous communities.

Brigette Lacquette facing off against Team USA

Canada’s Brigette Lacquette battles with USA’s Jocelyne Lamoureux-Davidson during second period action at the women’s world hockey championships Monday, March 28, 2016 in Kamloops, B.C. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz

Brigette Lacquette has shared her story about becoming the first Indigenous woman player on Canada’s Olympic hockey team, inspiring others and encouraging children and youth to dream big, especially girls in Indigenous communities.

Watching rock get swept in curling

Team Canada second Carolyn Darbyshire, centre, throws her rock as lead Cori Bartel, left, and third Susan O’Connor, right sweep while playing against Team Sweden during Olympic women’s curling action at the Olympic Centre on Monday, Feb. 22, 2010 during the 2010 Vancouver Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denett

From Alwyn Morris’ bronze and gold medals at the Los Angeles 1984 Olympic Games, to Carolyn Darbyshire-McRorie’s silver medal at Vancouver 2010; Indigenous People have made substantial and inspiring contributions to Canada’s Olympic legacy. Learn more here.

On Sunday, June 21st (7 p.m. EST) join Team Canada athletes, Mary Spencer, Jesse Cockney, Spencer O’Brien and Michael Linklater in a live panel discussion in collaboration with Three Things Consulting. Be sure to set a reminder and watch here.

Organizations and ways to support

• Aboriginal Peoples Television Network (APTN) aims to produce programming for Indigenous peoples and communities in both Canada and the United States. 

True North Aids caters to the needs of Indigenous communities in Canada. They continue to lead and support projects that provide critical needs to First Nations communities. 

• To find a local charity that supports Indigenous communities in your area, you can check out CanadaHelps.org

Right To Play is founded on protecting, educating, and empowering children using the power of play. Its Promoting Life-skills in Aboriginal Youth (PLAY) program partners with Indigenous communities along with urban organizations. Its mission is to have play-based programs which promote healthy relationships, education and skills in Indigenous communities.

Native-Land is an organization that is Indigenous-led and Indigenous-run. It provides education and information about Indigenous land rights, language, colonization, geography, and history.

At Canadian Tire Jumpstart, the mission is to help kids through the gift of play by learning new skills and building confidence.

• If you would like Indigenous book recommendations, you can check out the Government of Canada’s reading list. You can also check out CBC’s recommended Indigenous writers.