June 21, will be a particular meaningful day, especially given the federal government’s recent promise to implement the Truth and Reconciliations Commission’s 94 recommendations, launching the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls public inquiry and commitment to renewing the relation with Indigenous peoples.
“Aside from being the first day of summer and a time of abundance, which has always had special meaning for our people, it is also National Aboriginal Day,” says Elder Dumont, a First Nations Elder from the Kitigan Zibi Anishinabeg community near Maniwaki, Que. “For 20 years now we have been celebrating the culture and history of First Nation, Inuit and Métis people, but this year will be especially meaningful because of these recent positive developments. It’s a very promising time right now for our people.”
Elder Dumont says National Aboriginal Day is an opportunity for all Canadians to come together and celebrate the unique contributions that have been made by Indigenous peoples and to build bridges of understanding.
“We believe in being good people and good Canadians, and working together because intolerance and hate is what destroys a country and prevents it from becoming great. By working together and understanding each other, we can make Canada even greater.”
Elder Dumont is encouraging all Canadians to get involved with National Aboriginal Day by calling their local Friendship Centre or municipal office for a list of activities in their area, or by visiting www.canada.ca/en/indigenous-northern-affairs/. “Everyone is welcome,” Dumont says.
5 Ways to Celebrate National Aboriginal Day
June 21, also the first day of summer, marks the 20th anniversary of National Aboriginal Day in Canada. This day celebrates and recognizes the unique cultural contributions of First Nation, Métis or Inuit people in Canada.
If you and your family are looking for a unique way of celebrating Summer Solstice this year while learning more about our founding culture, National Aboriginal Day activities are happening in many urban and rural communities in Canada.
Five ways you can share in the celebrations:
1. Contact your nearest Indigenous community organization, Friendship Centre or local community drop in centre for a list of activities in your area, whether you’re a city or urban dweller. Planning committees have been working year-round to coordinate their events. There are festivals, music and dance performances, food tastings, Pow Wows and other festivities across Canada and everyone is welcome.
2. Get your child’s school involved. Teachers, home schoolers and caregivers can order learning materials for children age four to 14. The materials include colouring sheets, stories, hands-on activities, and other curriculum tools.
3. Hold an Indigenous music and dance day in your community centre or school. Local planning committees have lists of singers and dance groups that are available.
4. Host a feast or stories and legends day at school or in your community, or head to one of the many celebrations on June 21 to sample some Indigenous delights.
5. Canada is the traditional territories of many First Nations, which traditional territory does your community or residence reside in?
There are more ideas for National Aboriginal Day 2016 events at www.canada.ca/en/indigenous-northern-affairs/.