National Aboriginal Day was established in 1996 when it was proclaimed by then-Governor General Roméo Leblanc after decades of calls for a national holiday to celebrate the contributions of First Nations to Canada.
Initially advocated by the National Indian Brotherhood (now the Assembly of First Nations) in 1982, it was not until 1995 that the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples recommended designating a National First Peoples Day.
National Aboriginal Day is now part of a series of Celebrate Canada Days which includes the National Holiday of Quebec (June 24), Canadian Multiculturalism Day (June 27) and Canada Day (July 1). Canada Day is the only one that is a statutory holiday in all Canadian jurisdictions.
The day, sponsored in Yorkton by the Painted Hand Casino was celebrated with a free barbecue lunch followed by a prayer and drum group and musical performances by Midnight Mist (below left), Robina Wapash (above right), Teagan Littlechief and Grant Severight.
On Sunday, hundreds of local Filipinos and others packed the gymnasium at Sacred Heart High School for the Parkland Filipino-Canadian Association’s 6th Annual Pinoy Fiesta in celebration of their cultural heritage.
Pinoy is simply an informal nickname for Filipinos. In the Philippines Fiestas are used to celebrate patron saints, the passage of seasons and other special days.
After lunch, featuring a wide choice of traditional cuisine, the festivities were kicked off with the singing of both “O Canada” and “Lupang Hinirang,” the Philippines national anthem.
The entertainment included dancing, games and a performance by a new band out of Melville called Hwy 1.
In the past six years, the local Filipino population has grown by 10 times to more than 600.