With its world class mix of visitor attractions, outdoor activities and natural wonders, Canada’s capital Ottawa is the perfect base for discovering and experiencing the country’s fast-growing Indigenous tourism offerings. From museum visits and interpretive guided walks to observing a Pow Wow, there’s a whole host of ways to find out about the lives, culture and history of the country’s Indigenous peoples on a visit to Ottawa. Here are just a few of them.
A great starting point for visitors to the capital is Indigenous Experiences. Open from May through October, the attraction, located outside the Canadian Museum of History, offers visitors the chance to learn about the history, lives, and cultures of Indigenous communities from the region and beyond. Activities on offer range from taking guided tours of a reconstructed village to enjoying cultural experiences such as craft and music workshops or traditional storytelling and singing.
As befits the nation’s capital, Ottawa is blessed with a world class selection of museums and these make another great starting point for learning about the country’s Indigenous peoples and the role they continue to play in shaping the country’s culture and history. Top picks include the Canadian Museum of History which has no less than three exhibitions exploring Canada’s rich Indigenous legacy. Another is the Canadian Museum of Nature where the new-in-2017 Arctic Gallery’s innovative Northern Voices Gallery and multimedia Beyond Ice experience provide fascinating insight into the peoples of the Arctic region.
The Great Outdoors
To help bring the subject alive, it pays to get out and explore. In the city’s downtown area, themed guided walks help visitors interpret aspects such as the landscapes and architecture through a contemporary Indigenous perspective while taking in monuments such as the National Aboriginal Veterans Monument. Options range from the Basic Tour and Parliament Hill Tour to the Indigenous Women’s Tour, with a Very Scary Tour on offer for the more daring. Another nice option is to take to the road and head to Omega Park, around a 45-minute drive from Ottawa, in the province of Québec. Alongside its great mix of Canadian flora and fauna and stunning landscapes, visitors to the park can enjoy the one-kilometre long First Nations Trail, highlight of which are the sculpted totem poles representing all 11 of the First Nations of Québec.
Events and Festivals
Visitors to the Ottawa region can also join the country’s Indigenous peoples as they gather to celebrate key events such as the summer solstice on June 21, which the government officially declared National Aboriginal Day in 1996 and renamed National Indigenous Peoples Day in 2017. The Summer Solstice Indigenous Festival runs June 19-21, 2020 in Ottawa. Another event worth marking in visitors calendars is Odawa Pow Wow. From singing and dancing to crafts and cuisine this celebration of Aboriginal culture takes place each year near the end of May on a site next to Maple Hill Urban Farm at 200 Moodie Drive, Ottawa.