Aboriginal Peoples Television Network (APTN) is set to stage its annual celebration of National Aboriginal Day in Canada. This year’s fifth anniversary event will be shining bigger, brighter and better than ever.

Taking place on Saturday June 18, APTN’s Aboriginal Day Live event will feature a star-studded, three-and-a-half hour nationally-televised live concert, showcasing today’s brightest and best First Nations, Inuit and Métis talent.

The event will be hosted at one of Winnipeg, Manitoba’s most beloved and pre-eminent meeting spots known as The Forks.

This national historic site (the junction where the Assiniboine River meets the Red River), possesses a rich 6000-year old history and is a perfect backdrop for celebrating the pride and solidarity of Canada’s Aboriginal Peoples.

Touted as Canada’s largest celebration of National Aboriginal Day, Aboriginal Day Live 2011 will spotlight eight Aboriginal artists whose key performances will be intercut with live hits from hosts stationed onstage and backstage, audience interviews and other live updates.

The show will close with an amazing display of fireworks shooting high above the Winnipeg stage.

Although it will broadcast in real time across Canada, the concert event will later be re-packaged and versioned for future use on the network.

The six-part Solstice series will feature exclusive behind-the-scenes interviews with the artists, as well as never before seen performances from the live show. The accompanying vignettes will offer an insight into the artists beyond what we will see in the June 18 broadcast.

New this year, to precede the live concert, APTN will host its inaugural Aboriginal Day Festival, a day-long schedule of events that will include an Aboriginal Market Place, Healthy Living Family Zone, storytelling, dancing events and more – all at the Winnipeg Forks site.

At the Aboriginal Marketplace, attendees can experience traditional cuisine and explore the works and wares of authentic artisans and various Aboriginal merchants.

The Healthy Living Family Zone, meanwhile, will offer diet and fitness advice specific to Aboriginal Peoples and will encourage participation through demonstrations, dance and fitness activities.

The APTN lifestyle series Fit First will also be on site to film an episode for that series.

Activities at Mother Earth Nation will include story-telling and sharing, miniature tipi-making, traditional dancing and soapstone carving activities.

Especially appealing to youth will be the skateboard park demonstrations and the “Tech Tent”, featuring interactive gaming.

Another component of APTN’s Aboriginal Day Live celebrations begins each year on April 1 when youth across the nation are invited to submit a flag design signifying what National Aboriginal Day means to them.

The artist whose flag is chosen receives a cash prize and is flown to Winnipeg to unveil his/her flag design during the live event. The winning flag is also flown above APTN headquarters in Winnipeg for a full year.

This contest is just one of the ways APTN strives to engage youth across the country and encourage them to celebrate Aboriginal culture and heritage.

About National Aboriginal Day in Canada

National Aboriginal Solidarity Day (now known as National Aboriginal Day) was first called for in 1982 by the National Indian Brotherhood (Assembly of First Nations).

The date of June 21 was chosen due to the cultural significance of the summer solstice, the first day of summer and longest day of the year.

National Aboriginal Day, now marking its 15th year, was designated by the Government of Canada in 1996 as a special day for all Canadians to celebrate the unique heritage, cultures and contributions of Aboriginal Peoples in Canada.

Make sure to log on to www.aptn.ca to see our full schedule and more information on current programming and initiatives, contests and memberships.