Canada’s capital is a fitting place to immerse yourself in authentic Indigenous culture from the region and beyond. The tradition and culture have a huge importance on the country we see today.

The history of the Indigenous Peoples of Canada and the part they play in the country today, is hugely important. Long before French explorer Samuel de Champlain arrived in what is now Ottawa in the early 1600s, Indigenous Peoples had been living, meeting and trading in the area for thousands of years. It can be seen in every day cultures and is widely respected by residents and visitors to Canada. So much so, that many of Ontario’s attractions, tours and events reflect the fascinating stories of the Indigenous Peoples of Canada.

The name Ottawa stems from it’s fabled past. The Algonquins named the region Odawa, meaning traders — and from this Ottawa is derived. The creation of the country itself lends itself to the skills of Indigenous Peoples, who taught the Europeans vital skills such as how to navigate the mighty Ottawa River, survive the cold winter season and use maple sap.

Today, these and other fascinating stories about the Indigenous Peoples of Canada can be explored in the Canadian Capital’s many attractions, tours and events.


Canadian Museum of History – Canada’s most visited museum, the Canadian Museum of History, is located just across the majestic Ottawa River in Gatineau, Québec. The beautiful undulated structure, designed by Indigenous architect Douglas Cardinal, features countless symbols that reflect Canada’s landscape. The museum’s Grand Hall is home to the world’s largest indoor collection of totem poles. Look up at the domed ceiling at the end of the hall to see Morning Star, a painting by Alex Janvier, known as one of Canada’s great Indigenous artists!

Canadian War Museum – This museum is a living memorial to Canada’s military history, including themed sections that deal extensively with conflicts involving Canada’s First Peoples before and after European contact. The Canadian Experience Gallery explores how the wars of the First Peoples, the French and the British shaped Canada. Discover everything from Indigenous warfare, to the founder of the province of Manitoba and Métis spiritual leader Louis Riel, to the Northwest Resistance of 1885 and more.

National Gallery of Canada – The beautiful National Gallery of Canada is home to the world’s largest collection of Canadian art, including Indigenous and Inuit art. Visit the permanent Indigenous and Canadian Galleries to see the largest display of such art in the museum’s history. The items are presented side by side in chronological order, providing a complete picture of Canadian art. Inuit art is incorporated throughout the Indigenous and Canadian Galleries and more is on display in the museum’s Inuit gallery.

Monuments & Sites

Valiants Memorial – This monument pays tribute to several Canadians in the nation’s history, including Thayendanegea, who was also known as Joseph Brant. During the bloody conflict of the American Revolution from 1775-1783, Brant – a well-known Mohawk warrior and principal war chief of the Six Nations – led his people in support of the British. After the war, Brant brought his people to Canada and settled in what is now Brantford, Ontario.

Pindigen Park – Across from the Canadian War Museum is the compact but meaningful Pindigen Park. The site celebrates the Anishinabe philosophy of harmony between people, land, water and earth. You’ll find interpretive panels in Algonquin, English and French, as well as illustrations and steel silhouettes of Canadian animals.

Chaudière Falls – A five-minute walk from the Canadian War Museum and Pindigen Park takes you to a bridge connecting the provinces of Ontario and Quebec, and an island overlooking a water cascade. Public spaces such as Pangishimo Park (meaning “sunset”), provide a unique vantage point. Indigenous Peoples consider this part of the Ottawa River sacred because they used it as a main transportation route, and they met and traded on the islands.


Parc Omega – Known for its year-round Canadian wildlife safaris and fun activities, but it also highlights Canadian Indigenous culture. Walk along the First Nations trail to experience the history of the area’s First Nations through totem poles, sculptures and traditional structures. You can also feed fish in the lake and picnic amongst nature. Bring some carrots to feed the friendly deer!

Indigenous Experiences – This Ottawa-based small company brings Indigenous history and culture to life through engaging and authentic programming. Their main site is aptly named Mādahòkì Farm which means “to share the land” in the Anishnaabe language. Visit this indoor-outdoor location for the popular seasonal events which feature traditional music and dance performances, storytelling, interactive workshops and culinary options. The farm is also home to animals such as the rare and endangered Ojibwe Spirit Horses.