Like most holidays, aboriginal people should not be celebrated and respected for only one day of the year. This should be year round behavior to acknowledge the contributions of Aboriginal people. National Aboriginal day is currently used to spotlight the culture of First Nations, Metis and Inuit people. It is seen as a day to share our culture, our history and our issues with non aboriginal people. Most see it as a cultural event but it needs to be so much more.
Most First Nations peoples do not need a day to celebrate who we are as we do it every day of our lives. We exercise our rights, we fight for our rights and we continue in the way of life of our ancestors.
We surround ourselves with art work from our talented First Nations artists on our walls and mantels with the symbols that mean something to us whether it is the thunderbird, sea serpents, eagles, whales, fish or bear. Those symbols are on the dishes in our cupboards and on our jewellery and some of our clothing. Then of course we bring out our regalia on those special days when we celebrate or perform.
Through the years we have had National Days of Action on Aboriginal Day where we raised awareness of critical issues facing us. There have been so many and this is a powerful way of sending out our messages.
Wouldn’t it be great if Aboriginal Day was used a day of announcement on equitable agreements being signed between First Nations and governments or fair revenue sharing agreements were arrived at and new relationships that respected sustainability were finalized. That would be a sign of progress as agreements and developments would have the First Nations consent.
On June 21, not only is it National Aboriginal Day, it is the summer solstice, when spring slips into summer. A significant event for aboriginal people as it is the signal of harvesting times, fish, berries, roots, and medicines to name a few. It is a powerful day and one that all people should take note of. Want some ideas on what to do on aboriginal day? Here are a few to choose from but don’t be afraid to find other ideas on your own:
Write PM, MP’s and senators about a National inquiry on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women (#MMIW), and ask for a public inquiry, action now and changing the justice system to be more reactive to #MMIW;
Read the 94 Calls to Action from the Report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and determine if anything applies to you and do it. Embrace the whole report and read it for greater understanding of the deep and lasting negative impacts of Indian Residential Schools;
Support Treaty 8 First Nations in their bid against the Site C dam and again, write letters to Ministers and MLA’s to oppose the dam or donate to their court fund that can be found at https://fundraise.raventrust.com/events/campaign-join-circle-no-site-c/e49121
Read a book about First Nation’s history, issues, colonization, educate yourself and share with others;
Attend an event for aboriginal day and take time to talk with aboriginal people present about what is important to them. For a list of events in BC go to http://nationtalk.ca/story/province-celebrates-first-nation-metis-inuit-employees
Enjoy First Nations foods at an event of find the nearest restaurant that serves aboriginal cuisine.
Are First Nations in your area against a proposed development in your area, like a pipeline or tanker or dam or LNG facility or logging in old growth, or trying to stop the desecration of a burial site? Find out why and then find ways to support them.
Read the recent apology of the Manitoba government on the 60’s scoop and the role they played in taking indigenous students out of their homes, communities and culture. http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/local/Complete-text-Apology-to-First-Nation-Metis-and-Inuit-survivors-of-the-Sixties-Scoop-308233331.html
Make aboriginal day a statutory holiday like most First Nations already have.
Demand the federal government remove the 2% funding cap on all the funding that flows to First Nations from the federal government (has been in place since 1998 and First Nations are getting further behind every year) and allow it to grow by inflation and populations and other relevant factors to alleviate the poverty, poor health and housing conditions,
There are so many more issues that First Nations are facing every day. Pick one, learn about it, and then do something about it. Then you have really fulfilled the purpose of Aboriginal Day, indigenous peoples day. Enjoy learning about aboriginal people. Your life will be richer for it.
Happy Aboriginal day!