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National Indigenous Peoples Day

Celebrating Indigenous Peoples of Canada

June 21 is National Indigenous Peoples Day – an opportunity for all Canadians to reflect upon and learn the history, sacrifices, cultures, contributions and strength of First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples.  

Celebrate this important day by making Indigenous-inspired recipes and learn about the physical, cultural and spiritual significance of certain foods to the Indigenous Peoples of Canada.  

Food and Indigenous Culture

Food has been and still is very important to the Indigenous way of life. Meals centred around plants and meats that can be harvested from the land and sea around us.  Traditional recipes use ingredients such as bison, moose, elk, seal, salmon, rabbit, fiddleheads, rice, nuts and berries.   

We have put together a collection of recipes using ingredients that have, and remain to be, important to many Indigenous Peoples. 

  • Bison

    Bison served as a lifeforce for many First Nations people of Canada and continues to play an important role in Indigenous culture. Once roaming in the tens of millions, bison provided meat for food security, the hides were used for building teepees and making clothing and the bones were fashioned into tools. No part of the animal would go to waste.  Today, bison continues to serve an important cultural and spiritual role to many Indigenous communities. 

    • Easy
      Bison Meatballs with Blueberry Dipping Sauce

      Today, bison can be easily found at most grocery stores or specialty butchers. The blueberry dipping sauce could be made with most wild berries and adds a sweet balance to the savoury meatballs.

    • Easy
      Bison Burgers with Maple Shallots

      Bison is leaner than beef, but the cheese and mustard mixed right in with the meat makes this grilled burger nice and juicy. The sweetness from our sautéed Maple Shallots complements the bison nicely.

    • Easy
      Trail Blazin’ Bison Chili

      This ground bison chili is packed with beans, potatoes, carrots and spices. Alternatively, you could also use ground meat from a variety of wild game that you might have on hand such as moose, elk or deer.

    • Easy
      BFK Hamburger Soup

      This recipe is enjoyed by many Indigenous people as an easy way to use ground bison, beef or wild game. This soup goes great with our Barbecued Bannock Biscuits!

  • Salmon

    Salmon are a valuable resource and an important part of the culture to many Inuit and First Nations communities.  Particularly on Canada's west coast, salmon have been a vital source of food as well as income for thousands of years. Today, the salmon is a symbol of strength and perseverance for many First Nations people.     

    If you struggle with cooking your salmon, we can help! Our All About Salmon explains how to select and cook salmon to perfection and then try some of our favourite restaurant-worthy salmon recipes. 

    • Easy
      Maple Mustard Salmon

      Maple works so wonderfully with salmon and a touch of Dijon mustard. This delicious dish cooks up quickly on the barbecue in a foil packet.

    • Medium
      Cedar Planked Salmon

      Cedar planking is one of the most popular ways to grill salmon for good reason. The plank keeps the salmon off the direct heat of the barbecue while also lending a deliciously smoky flavour. Serve the salmon right on the plank for an impressive presentation, but be sure to discard it after you’re done eating, as they can only be used once.

  • Foraged Ingredients

    Indigenous people have found strength, sustenance and healing from foraging the wild ingredients found all around them. Today, you can find plenty of berries, herbs and edible plants without going too far.  Try these Indigenous-inspired suggestions for enjoying all sorts of edible gifts from nature! 

    • Difficult
      Prairie Barbecue Sauce

      This tangy barbecue sauce gets its prairie credentials from the addition of fresh or frozen rhubarb and saskatoon berries. Use it on ribs, burgers or anywhere else you’d use a sweet barbecue sauce.

    • Difficult
      Saskatoon Jam

      Saskatoons are indigenous to Western Canada and can be easily found growing in the wild. They make a delicious jam.

    • Medium
      Barbequed Bannock Biscuits

      Bannock, a staple of Indigenous cuisine, is often cooked over an open fire. This recipe lets you make fluffy bannock-style biscuits in a cast iron skillet on your barbeque. Pairs great with Saskatoon Jam.

    Try Wild Tea

    Indigenous people have traditionally found medicinal benefits from brewing their own wild tea.   You don't have to look far to find valuable ingredients to make your own wild tea!  From pine needles and dandelions to raspberry leaves and wild berries, a delicious wild tea can be made from numerous ingredients you have in your own backyard!  Be sure to invest in a foraging guide to help identify edible plants and herbs and ensure you are avoiding areas which may contain pesticides

Learn more

ATCO is committed to building and maintaining meaningful and respectful relationships with Indigenous Peoples and communities. For more information on how we work with and support our Indigenous communities, please see the links and videos below: