Nine paddlers launched a ceremonial dugout canoe in Whitehorse this morning as National Aboriginal Day festivities got underway.

It kicked off with a grand opening of the Kwanlin Dun Cultural Centre on the Yukon River waterfront where events take place into the evening today.

There are also celebrations across the territory. Events in Dawson City, Yukon, were held at the Danoja Zho Cultural Centre. In Haines Junction, Yukon, there were ceremonies at the new Parks Canada Information area and Yukon visitor centre..  And the Na-Cho Nyak Dun First Nation in Mayo, Yukon, hosted games and a barbecue at Galena Park.  

In the Northwest Territories, where National Aboriginal Day is a holiday, there were two big events in Yellowknife. The North Slave Metis Alliance expected to feed about 2,000 people at its free fish fry at Somba K’e park, with the help of donations from the diamond mines and volunteers from many groups, including RCMP.

The Yellowknives Dene also held celebrations at the Yellowknife River with lots of traditional crafts, feasting and a drum dance that will likely go until the wee hours tonight.

In Fort Resolution, N.W.T., there was a parade and a fish fry. Fort Smith, N.W.T., held a hand games tournament and cultural tents. And in Deline, N.W.T., the self-proclaimed birthplace of hockey, NHL star Jordin Tootoo was expected to make a surprise appearance.

In Nunavut, many RCMP detachments held community barbecues. In Iqaluit, Alianait is scheduled to hold a concert Thursday night at Nakasuk School featuring a popular folk group from Greenland, local storyteller Laakkuluk Williamson Bathory, singer Terrie Kusugak and Kulavak throat singers Kathleen Merritt and Nancy Ilisapi Mike.