Long before French explorer Samuel de Champlain arrived in what is now in Ottawa, the region was known to different Indigenous communities. These nations – Huron, Algonquin, Cree and Ojibwe to name a few – were the region’s first residents, and taught early settlers how to navigate the Ottawa River and how to create the sugary delicacy that is maple syrup from maple sap. The important stories of these Indigenous cultures are told in today’s Ottawa through museums, galleries, monuments and other cultural attractions – as well as a guided walking tour, an authentic pow wow, and a voyageur canoe experience. Discover some of the many ways to connect with Aboriginal cultures in Ottawa.
Aboriginal Experiences seeks to inform, enlighten, thrill and entertain curious travelers and locals alike. Discover the diversity of the Aboriginal cultures originating in Canada, and how they’ve progressed through the ages, through traditional and contemporary foods, performances, and displays of visual art. Visit online for package options. This is a group only outside attraction, operating seasonally (May through October) on Victoria Island in the Ottawa River, with a view of Parliament Hill.
Indigenous Walks offers a walk and talk through downtown Ottawa focusing on social, political and cultural issues while exploring monuments, landscape, architecture, and art through an Indigenous perspective. There are a variety of walks available including the Basic Tour, Parliament Hill Tour, Indigenous Women’s Tour and the Very Scary Tour. Each tour varies depending on the assigned tour guide, who provide perspectives based on his or her respective experiences.
Focussing on Canada’s military history, just east of the National War Memorial in Ottawa’s downtown core, you’ll find the Valiants Memorial. This monument pays tribute to several Canadians in our nation’s history, including Thayendanegea, who was also known as Joseph Brant.
National Aboriginal Veterans Monument
Located in Confederation Park across from the Lord Elgin Hotel, this monument honours the contributions of Aboriginal Canadians in war and peacekeeping operations.
NATIONAL GALLERY OF CANADA
Canadian and Indigenous Galleries
Through art, the reinvented Canadian and Indigenous Galleries tell the story of art in Canada, interweaving Indigenous history and art. Indigenous Art at the National Gallery of Canada includes masterpieces by Daphne Odjig and Norval Morrisseau as well as themes of magnetic north, inhabited landscapes, and the emergence of Inuit art: a true testament to the rich and multifaceted Canadian experience.
CANADIAN MUSEUM OF HISTORY
Canadian History Hall
Canada’s national museum of history explores this country’s rich cultural heritage, including the outstanding achievements of First Peoples.
The spectacular Grand Hall offers an introduction to the history, cultures and beliefs of the First Peoples of Canada’s Pacific Coast.
First Peoples Hall
The First Peoples Hall celebrates the history, diversity, creativity, resourcefulness and endurance of Canada’s First Nations, Métis and Inuit peoples. In doing so, it presents a vivid record of cultural richness and a story of survival, renewal and vitality.
WABANO CENTRE FOR ABORIGINAL HEALTH
The Wabano Centre’s culture program offers services to individuals, families and groups incorporating Aboriginal beliefs, values and traditions that promote holistic healing. Visit their website for special events.
SUMMER SOLSTICE FESTIVAL
June 21 marks a significant time when Aboriginal People across Canada traditionally gather and celebrate the Summer Solstice. In 1996, the day was officially declared National Aboriginal Day and in 2009, the month of June was officially declared National Aboriginal History Month, to recognize the enormous contributions that First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples have made to Canada. Check out the festival program online.
ODAWA POW WOW
Each year near the end of May, the Odawa Pow Wow offers an Aboriginal dance and singing competition as well as an Aboriginal arts and crafts market. This is also a great place to sample Aboriginal cuisine!
Omega Park is a wildlife park where you live the experience of wild Canadian nature. It is an opportunity to discover the fauna, history, heritage and the different cultures of our First Nations. The First Nations pathway is unique in America: all 11 First Nations of Québec are represented, each with a sculpted totem, along a one-kilometre pathway that includes a trading post and is dedicated to all First Nations.
The Chaudière or Akikodjiwan Falls, are a set of cascades and waterfalls in the centre of the Ottawa-Gatineau metropolitan area. Akikodjiwan is the name given to the falls by the Anishinaabe peoples that have lived and gathered at this sacred meeting place for centuries. EnergyOttawa is currently expanding the Chaudière Falls to produce clean, renewable energy in an environmentally responsible way. For the first time in more than 100 years, Chaudière Falls will be open to the public to enjoy and serve as a place of recognition and celebration of Canada’s First Nations.