By Janice Tober, APTN Communications Freelancer

On the afternoon of Saturday, June 22, the sound of drums first breaks the quiet anticipation of the crowd. Voices rise in traditional song as Indigenous dancers make their grand entrance. A cascade of colour, sound and movement invites everyone to join in. And they do.

Kids run around the grounds, check out a traditional Indigenous game and learn a few words of Ojibwe. They smile while choosing their favourite bannock. The older kids head over to the skateboard competition, as the young ones settle into the Children’s Corner to hear traditional stories.

Evening comes, and with it, the sound of instruments from the stage. A voice soars above the musical heartbeat, and the throngs of people – young and old – move to the music as if they were all one people.

The activities vary, but this is how Canada celebrates National Indigenous Peoples Day, with APTN Indigenous Day Live (IDL).

Since 2007, IDL has brought together Indigenous Peoples to share their experiences with all Canadians through music, culture and art. It is a day and night of pure celebration that recognizes the unique heritage and diversity of Indigenous Peoples across the country.

Starting Small

IDL started in 2007 as a small celebration outside APTN’s headquarters in downtown Winnipeg, Man. The hour-long concert featured fiddle master Donny Parenteau, traditional Métis dance group Asham Stompers, champion hoop dancer Lisa Odig, Juno Award-winner Leela Gilday and internationally renowned C-Weed Band.

This year, IDL is in three host cities on June 22. Winnipeg, Man., Whitehorse, Yukon and, for the very first time, Calgary, Alta. Each city will feature its own daytime activities and live evening concerts, with some events taking place simultaneously across all three cities. In Winnipeg, a Sunrise Ceremony and Sacred Fire will take place in honour of the summer solstice. The fire will remain lit throughout the day until an Elder extinguishes it at sunset. Whitehorse will host a community Blanket Exercise, which is sure to be a powerful symbol of the Indigenous experience. Meanwhile, a free pancake breakfast in Calgary will be a highlight for kids and adults alike.

Family activities will be free throughout the day and include cultural elements like throat singing, hoop dancing and a fiddle competition. Local artisans will also be selling their unique pieces. Be sure to check out the many delicious food trucks that will line the paths to the stages.

Anticipation will start to build around 5 p.m. as the evening concerts get closer and closer. The three shows will light up the night sky across Canada. For those unable to make it to the big show, you’re in luck. APTN will be broadcasting live on location from each city. National hosts Andrea Brazeau and Charles Bender  will make sure you feel the excitement by bringing over 20 star-studded acts your way, ranging from up-and-coming artists to household names.

Bringing People Together

While the evening concerts are key to IDL, the on-stage collaborations reveal the true spirit of the event. Armond Duck Chief  is one of the musicians who will be taking centre stage in Calgary on June 22. Along with his performance in the pre-show concert starting at 4:45 p.m. MT, Duck Chief will be sharing the stage with Canadian music legend, Blue Rodeo,  during the main concert. His excitement leading up to the event is palpable. “It’s an absolute honour to share the stage with such a great band,” says Duck Chief. “It will be an experience I will never forget, and it’s pretty cool to be a part of this collaboration.”

Legendary music icons Buffy Sainte-Marie and Randy Bachman  will also be joining forces in Winnipeg. This powerhouse duo will surely bring the house down.

But not all IDL collaborations are musical ones. The music industry has always experimented with high fashion, and IDL is no different. APTN has invited Indigenous fashion designers to create the show-stopping looks that the hosts will be wearing at the 2019 event. Each of the eight hosts will be clothed in something remarkable, created exclusively by Indigenous designers.

Angela DeMontigny is an internationally renowned, Indigenous Canadian designer whose work is sold in specialty boutiques and galleries throughout North America and Europe. Her original clothing collections showcase the most elegant examples of her heritage, made in luscious leather and suede with exciting finishes like unique metallics and details such as fringe, cutwork and hand beading. Winnipeg host Grace Dove will be showing off this designer’s custom look on June 22.

On the men’s side, we have LUXX Readyto-Wear, an Edmonton fashion company headed up by Indigenous designer,  Derek Jagodzinsky. LUXX specializes in creating modern, sleek and sophisticated styles for those who want to challenge perceptions of Indigenous culture. His designs have been featured in the Native Fashion Now exhibit that toured throughout the U.S. and even stopped at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian. Whitehorse host Dave Jenniss will be donning LUXX creations at IDL 2019.

National Indigenous Peoples Day is a day of celebration, a day of pride and one to share with all of Canada. APTN invites you to be a part of it. Come down to one of the city venues, watch the livestream at on APTN starting at 8 p.m. ET or listen on Indigenous radio waves.

Join the conversation on Twitter or Instagram by tagging your posts with #IDL2019.

Visit to learn more about IDL 2019.