To some people it is the longest day of the year, to others, it is the summer solstice, to some it’s the first day of summer but to many it is far more than these titles. It is Canada’s National Indigenous Peoples Day.
June 21 will mark the intrinsic augmentation that First Nations, Inuit, and the Metis have contributed to the culture and existence of the nation into which Canada has grown.
National Indigenous People Day falls within National Indigenous History Month 2021, which this year is dedicated to the missing children, survivors, and the families left behind of the residential school system.
Carolyn Bennett, Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations said that June 2021 is a time to honour the distinct heritage, languages, cultural practices and spiritual beliefs of First Nations, Inuit and the Métis Nation.
“All Canadians need to better understand the damaging intergenerational impacts of colonization. As a Government, we are taking steps to eliminate systemic racism, achieve equity and advance reconciliation, and celebrate Indigenous knowledge and culture.
“This month, we encourage you to read, or re-read, the TRC Calls to Action, the Calls for Justice of the National Inquiry, or to read a book by a First Nations, Inuit or Métis author to expand your horizons and understand Canada better,” Bennett stated.
In a 2017 statement announcing the renaming of National Indigenous Peoples Day from National Aboriginal Day, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau encouraged all Canadian citizens to learn the history, cultures, and traditions of Indigenous Peoples.
“No relationship is more important to Canada than the relationship with Indigenous Peoples. Our Government is working together with Indigenous Peoples to build a nation-to-nation, Inuit-Crown, government-to-government relationship – one based on respect, partnership, and recognition of rights.
“We are determined to make a real difference in the lives of Indigenous Peoples – by closing socio-economic gaps, supporting greater self-determination, and establishing opportunities to work together on shared priorities. We are also reviewing all federal laws and policies that concern Indigenous Peoples and making progress on the Calls to Action outlined in the Final Report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
Each year various celebrations and gatherings occur across the country to commemorate National Indigenous Peoples Day. Due to the global pandemic, social distancing and health restrictions it is anticipated celebrations may take a scaled-back form. To follow commemorations online visit www.rraanc-cirnac.gc.ca
K-J Millar | Journalist
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