June is Canada's busiest month for celebrating the many diverse people, cultures and events that have helped shape this beautiful nation. From Indigenous Peoples Day to Filipino Heritage Month, the Great White North is overflowing with national celebrations in June. Here are some of our favourites:
National Indigenous History Month
June is National Indigenous History Month, a time to recognize and celebrate the history, culture and contributions of First Nations, Métis and Inuit peoples in Canada. It’s also a time to reflect on the past, present and future of Indigenous peoples.
In 2022 Canada is especially remembering the many children who were taken from their families to residential schools found in unmarked graves across the country. These schools were intended to destroy Indigenous cultures and assimilate children into Euro-centric Canadian culture.
The month is celebrated in June to coincide with the summer solstice and mark the longest day of the year, which is considered a time when indigenous people traditionally celebrated their achievements.
This is also a time for recognizing and supporting the many talented, hard working indigenous artists, makers and small businesses we have in our community.
LGBTQ2+ Pride Month
Across the nation, Canadian cities hold Pride events that celebrate sexual and gender diversity. It is a time to acknowledge the hardships that LGBTQ2+ people have endured, and the progress that has been made.
In Canada, LGBTQ2+ individuals are protected under the Human Rights Act (HRA). The HRA states: "Everyone has the right to be free from discrimination on grounds of sex." This includes sexual orientation and gender identity/expression—two categories of distinction that are often grouped together in recognition of their overlapping nature.
Canadians have been allowed to sponsor their same-sex spouse since 2002. Before then, same sex spouses had to be eligible as common-law partners or be admitted under humanitarian compassion grounds. Since 2017 however, Canada has recognized gender identifier “X” on official documents. Temporary residents have the option to change their gender identifier on these documents as of March 2021. Progress is still being made for more inclusive immigration systems in Canada: as of July 2020 same-sex couples can now pass down Canadian citizenship to their foreign born children!
Italian Heritage Month (Maggio Italiano)
Canada is home to more than 1.5 million Canadians of Italian descent, making it one of the largest Italian diasporas in the world. Italian Heritage Month, or Maggio Italiano, is an annual celebration of the rich cultural heritage of Canadians of Italian descent. While it’s not a provincial or federal holiday, it’s a time to reflect on the contributions Italians have made to Canadian society and culture.
Italian immigrants have come to Canada since the 1830s. There was an influx of Italian newcomers between the 1870s and World War I. They primarily settled in Toronto, Montreal, and to a lesser extent Vancouver.
The month-long celebration takes place in June and was first organized by the National Congress of Italian Canadians (NCIC) in 1977. The NCIC is a national organization that represents the interests of all Canadians who trace their heritage back to Italy.
Filipino Heritage Month
Filipino Heritage Month is a month-long celebration of Filipino-Canadian culture, history and achievements.
The idea was first proposed in 1996 by Dr. Gerardo R. Aguilar (1931–2015), an Ontario physician who had immigrated to Canada from the Philippines as a child. The first Filipino Heritage Month was held in 1998 across the country on June 1–30—the anniversary of Philippine Independence Day (June 12).
Portuguese Heritage Month
Canada now has one of the largest Portuguese diasporas in the world, home to more than 480,000 strong.
Portuguese explorers were among the first Europeans to lay eyes on the land we now know as Canada. They ventured into Canadian waters in 1497 when John Cabot landed at present-day Newfoundland and Labrador. When Portuguese sailors returned home with tales of their adventures in foreign lands, many people thought they were lying—especially because they talked about "New Found Land."
Canadian Arab Heritage Month
Canadian Arab Heritage Month is an annual celebration of Arab-Canadian culture, achievements and contributions to Canada. The month was established in 2001 by a resolution of the House of Commons. Canadian Arab Heritage Month has been celebrated every June since 2002 in different regions across Canada through various events and activities. During this time, Canadians come together to recognize the accomplishments made by Arabs in Canada throughout history and how they have contributed to building our nation into what it is today.
Caribbean Heritage Month
Caribbean Heritage Month is a time to celebrate the diversity of the Caribbean community in Canada. Caribbean Canadians have made significant contributions to our nation’s history, society and economy. The population of Carabians living in Canada has grown steadily since the 1970s and reached 1 million by 2011. Today, there are approximately 791,000 people with Caribbean ancestry living in Canada, making up 4% of all visible minorities in Canada.
Caribbean Heritage Month is an opportunity to celebrate the cultures, traditions and contributions of this diverse group who make up one-third of all immigrants from Africa or Central and South America.
National Indigenous Peoples Day
National Indigenous Peoples Day, also known as National Aboriginal Day or First Nations Day, is celebrated on June 21 each year. It's an opportunity to recognize and celebrate the distinct languages, subcultures, and spiritual beliefs of First Nations, Inuit and Métis people.
National Indigenous Peoples Day was announced in 1996 by then Governor General of Canada, Roméo LeBlanc. It was originally called National Aboriginal Day but in 2017 Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced that the government would change it to National Indigenous People’s Day.
Canadian Multiculturalism Day
Canadian Multiculturalism Day is an opportunity to celebrate the rich diversity of our country and learn about Canada's multicultural heritage. It is also a chance to show our appreciation for the contributions that new Canadians, Canada's indigenous peoples and all Canadians from different backgrounds have made to this country.
On June 27, 1988, Prime Minister Brian Mulroney proclaimed that this date would be observed as Canadian Multiculturalism Day in recognition of the fact that multiculturalism has become one of our most important national characteristics.
The Government of Canada recognizes that it is essential for all citizens to understand and appreciate cultural differences if they are going to live together harmoniously in a democratic society like ours.
Every Month is diversity month in Canada!
In short, June is a great time to reflect on Canada’s rich cultural heritage and to celebrate the diversity of our population. In fact, when we look at our country as a whole – not just in June – it’s easy to see that Canadians are indeed united by a common goal: to create an inclusive society where all people are treated equally regardless of race or ethnicity.