Friday is Aboriginal Day in Canada, a day which celebrates the culture of the first Canadians.
National Aboriginal Day provides all Canadians with an opportunity to learn more about Aboriginal people and their contributions towards the country’s development and progress.
While they are truly the founding peoples of our nation, at times their contributions seem lost as we concentrate on the developments created through the efforts of English and French, the two major European influences as the first Europeans to establish lasting colonies in what would become Canada.
It is also a day for First Nations, Métis and Inuit people to showcase their cultures and achievements throughout Canada on this day.
It is the sharing of the positives of their culture to the creation of the current fabric of our nation which makes the day one which should hold a higher profile than it does.
The day is one which was created to help raise awareness and bridge cultural gaps in our country.
The Canadian Constitution recognizes three groups of Aboriginal peoples: Indians (First Nations), Inuit and Métis. While sharing some commonalities in terms of history the three groups also have their own distinct heritage, language, cultural practices and spiritual beliefs. The three making up a rather diverse group themselves, ones which all Canadians should come to know better to foster deeper understanding.
The idea of a day dedicated to Aboriginal peoples was something often talked about through the years.
“For example, in 1982 the National Indian Brotherhood (now the Assembly of First Nations) called for June 21 to be National Aboriginal Solidarity Day. In 1995 the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples recommended for a National First Peoples Day to be designated. The Sacred Assembly, a national conference of Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people, called for a national holiday to celebrate the contributions of Aboriginal peoples,” detailed www.timeanddate.com
The day actually originated in 1996 when proclaimed by Canada’s then governor general Roméo LeBlanc.
“In cooperation with Aboriginal organizations, the Canadian government chose June 21 for National Aboriginal Day because it was on or near the June solstice. Many of Canada’s Aboriginal peoples celebrated their culture and heritage on or near this day for many generations. National Aboriginal Day provides an opportunity to acknowledge the unique achievements of First Nations, Métis and Inuit in fields as diverse as agriculture, the environment, business and the arts,” detailed the website.
Locally the day goes by with limited fanfare, which is too bad.
Saskatchewan and in particular our region, are home to diverse Aboriginal peoples who have played a major role in the history here, much of it dating back to long before Saskatchewan became a province in 1905.
Moving forward it is to be hoped the profile of the day grows, and it becomes a cornerstone for growing understanding and acceptance between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginals help both forge a stronger future together.