Wednesday, June 21, 2017 is National Aboriginal Day. A variety of celebrations are happening throughout Canada to celebrate Inuit, Metis and First Nations. National Aboriginal Day was established in 1996 by former Governor General Roméo A. LeBlanc. It is a day devoted to the recognition of Indigenous groups and their historic and current contributions to Canada.
Celebrating Aboriginal Day is an important step forward in furthering the relationship between Aboriginal groups and other Canadians. It is a day to remember the shared history and recognize that moving forward together will create a stronger and more unified country.
“Reconciliation is not an Aboriginal problem; it is a Canadian one” the Truth and Reconciliation Commission report states.
Residential school survivor and Gwawaenuk Elder Chief Dr. Robert Joseph explains:
“As Canadians, we share a responsibility to look after each other and acknowledge the pain and suffering that our diverse societies have endured—a pain that has been handed down to the next generations. We need to right those wrongs, heal together, and create a new future that honours the unique gifts of our children and grandchildren.
How do we do this? Through sharing our personal stories, legends and traditional teachings, we found that we are interconnected through the same mind and spirit. Our traditional teachings speak to acts such as holding one another up, walking together, balance, healing and unity. Our stories show how these teachings can heal their pain and restore dignity. We discovered that in all of our cultural traditions, there are teachings about reconciliation, forgiveness, unity, healing and balance.
Reconciliation calls for personal action. People need to get to know each other. They need to learn how to speak to, and about, each other respectfully. They need to learn how to speak knowledgeably about the history of this country. And they need to ensure that their children learn how to do so as well.”
You might be wondering what’s going on in your community to celebrate this day. We’ve got you covered! Here is all the information you need:
At 9:00am, the Vancouver event begins at the Friendship Centre (1607 E Hastings St, Vancouver, BC V5L 1S7). Events and performances will take place until 11:00am and be followed by the Friendship Walk to Trout Lake Park (3300 Victoria Dr, Vancouver, BC V5N 4M4). Events and performances will continue at the park until 5:00pm. Click here for more information (including the full performance list).
National Aboriginal Day at The Fort celebrations commence Saturday June 17, 2017 and finish on Sunday June 28, 2017. The event will be held at the Fort Langley National Historic Site and admission will be free compliments of Canada 150. Come out and listen to some First Nations stories and partake in some celebratory activities. For more information click here.
From 11:00am -5:30pm, Friday June 16, 2017 through Sunday June 18, 2017 join the Songhees and Esquimalt Nations for National Aboriginal Day celebrations. This weekend event is free and will be held at the Royal BC Museum. Enjoy stage performances, an authentic indigenous marketplace, storytelling, cuisine and more! For more information click here.
Aboriginal Awareness week is taking place June 19 -24, 2017. The event is promoting pride understanding and awareness of Aboriginal cultures, traditions, contributions and achievements to Canadian society. This year’s theme is “Keeping the Circle Strong”- “Sharing Our Culture: Celebrating Canada’s 150th Birthday”. “Living the truth is living the seven sacred teachings, living from the heart.” For more information, click here.
From sunrise to sunset on Wednesday, June 21, 2017 in Victoria Park, celebrations will occur for Aboriginal Day. Enjoy the sacred fire ceremony, a pow wow, and many other traditional experiences. For more information, click here.
On Wednesday, June 21, 2017 also known as the “Moon of the Longest Day”, partake in First Nations celebrations. Enjoy storytelling, guided tours, a live display of Alberta Birds of Prey, Indigenous food, interact with performers and try ancient hunting techniques. The event is located at Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump (18km north and west of Fort Macleod, AB on secondary highway #765) from 10:00am until 4:00pm. For more information, click here.
National Aboriginal Day is being celebrated at Fort Whoop-Up on June 21, 2017 from 1:00-4:30PM. Admission is free for all ages. There will be storytelling, a mini pow wow, children’s activities, and food. For more information click here.
As the celebrations near, reading is a great chance to broaden your perspective and come to a better understanding of aboriginal history and culture. It is an easy way to take a few steps in someone else’s shoes and become more educated on the challenges and issues aboriginals have and continue to face. As Canadians, it is increasingly important understand how our history has shaped the world today. Here are some of our favorite Aboriginal book recommendations:
- Richard Wagamese, Indian Horse
This story explores the life of a young man who grew up living a traditional lifestyle in the wilderness, attended a residential school and then left to navigate 1960s Canada on his own.
- Harry Swain, Oka: A Political Crisis and Its Legacy
Harry Swain writes about his experience as a former federal official during the Oka crisis in the summer of 1990. The Mohawk warriors barricaded a road near Oka, Quebec to stop golf course expansion into their traditional burial ground.
- Calvin Helin, Dances with Dependency: Out of Poverty Through Self-Reliance
This narrative provides insight into the current socio-economic state of many First Nations in B.C. and how the socio-economic gap between Aboriginals and non-Aboriginals can be decreased.
- Joseph Boyden, Three Day Road
This historical fiction explores the lives of two Cree men who enlist voluntarily to fight for Canada in the First World War and the struggles they face post war.
- Thomas King, The Inconvenient Indian: A Curious Account of Native People in North America
This narrative is based on stories, experiences, facts and personal beliefs. It delves into examples of Aboriginal media portrayals to examine relationships between nonindigenous and the indigenous populations of North America.