Though all of June is National Indigenous History Month, National Indigenous Peoples Day on June 21st kicks off festivals and events in Canada that last throughout the summer.
But even if you don’t get to attend any of these, there are many places-of-interest open to visitors nearly year-round. These destinations can offer authentic Canadian experiences for those who want to be educated about indigenous heritage and culture.
Indigenous tourism in Canada
It’s important to note that despite any cultural similarities shared among indigenous peoples—whether First Nations, Inuit or Métis—each community’s distinct ideas, customs, traditions, language, histories and spiritual beliefs are unique. Collectively, they’re celebrated through initiatives like tourism, which give opportunities to indigenous and non-indigenous people alike to learn and partake in indigenous culture.
Each province and territory has its own ways of providing these experiences for visitors from all walks of life. You can visit historical sites, take guided outdoor and wildlife tours, relax at lodges, trek through national parks, attend pow-wows, stop by museums and galleries, and enrich yourselves in cultural centres.
Top indigenous destinations and experiences in Canada
There are many indigenous tourist sites found across the country, from coast to coast, but here are just a handful that you might want to start planning your travels with!
1. Haida Gwaii, BC
Haida Gwaii is an archipelago off the coast of BC, known as the homeland of the Haida people, who have lived on the islands for more than 13,000 years. Haida Gwaii is the perfect place for travellers looking for a remote wilderness retreat combined with cultural immersion—famous for its centuries-old totem poles, abundant wildlife, lush forests, and the Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve and Haida Heritage Site. Visitors can stay at one of the many guest houses or lodges, such as the award-winning Haida House or the luxurious, Haida-owned Ocean House.
2. Wanuskewin Heritage Park, SK
Just outside Saskatoon, Wanuskewin Heritage Park is a non-profit cultural complex honouring the history and artwork of indigenous people. It showcases exhibits and holds events on site, which is open to the public from May-September each year. Wanuskewin is designated a National Historic Site of Canada, thanks to its archaeological significance, tied to the Northern Plains indigenous peoples.
3. Huron Traditional Site, QC
The Onhoüa Chetek8e Huron Traditional Site (Site Traditionnel Huron Onhoüa Chetek8e) is a 30-minute drive north from the heart of Quebec City. Open all year round, offering activities such as canoe rides, dances, tales and legends storytelling, arts and crafts workshops. Guided tours are provided for everyone, including individuals, families and school groups.
Bonus: If you’re already in southern Quebec, consider taking a day trip a few hours north to the Mashteuiatsh First Nations reserve and visit the Uashassihtsh Ilnu Cultural Learning Site (Site de transmission culturelle ilnu Uashassihtsh), located on the waterfront of the beautiful Lac Saint-Jean.
4. Torngat Mountains National Park, NL
The Torngat Mountains National Park takes travellers through nearly 10,000 km2 of unspoiled wilderness at the northern tip of Labrador, bordering Quebec. Exclusive tours can be booked at the Torngat Mountains Base Camp and Research Station, operating only from mid-July to end of August each year due to the harsh arctic climate.
Here, guides will take you to historical and archaeological sites, including old Inuit villages and settlements, routes across ancient landscapes and fjords, while educating everyone about Inuit heritage. It’s a perfect way for adventurous travellers to explore some of the remaining frontiers of Canada, where you’ll find no roads, trails, campgrounds, or big signages to direct you.
5. Kwanlin Dün Cultural Centre, YK
The Kwanlin Dün Cultural Centre is a place that celebrates indigenous arts, culture and heritage of the Kwanlin Dün people and other First Nations in Whitehorse, Yukon. It showcases the wide range of work from indigenous artists, artisans, storytellers, drummers, dancers and carvers, also hosting workshops on traditional crafts. The annual Adäka Cultural Festival, is held at the KDCC every summer. There’s a network of places of interest to check out while you’re in the Yukon, thanks to the Yukon First Nations Culture & Tourism Association (YFNCT) —though they’re a bit spread out, so plan ahead!