NATIONAL ABORIGINAL DAY
JUNE 21ST - A Celebration
of Aboriginal heritage
June 18, 2010
“Aboriginal Peoples" is a collective name for the
original peoples of North America and their descendants. The Canadian
constitution recognizes three groups of Aboriginal People - First Nations,
Métis and Inuit. These are three distinct peoples with unique histories,
languages, cultural practices and spiritual beliefs.
On June 13, 1996, the Governor
General of Canada proclaimed June 21st to be National Aboriginal Day,
offering Aboriginal peoples an excellent opportunity to share their rich,
diverse cultures with family members, neighbours, friends and visitors. It's
a day to honour the history and culture of the First Nations, Inuit and
Métis who were here long before the founding of Canada.
Even before the proclamation of June 21st
as National Aboriginal Day, there was a long-standing desire to set aside a
national day to recognize and celebrate Aboriginal Peoples and their
cultures. This day recognizes
the important contributions that the First Peoples (First Nations, Métis and
Inuit) have made to Canada. It is an excellent
occasion for Aboriginal groups to showcase and share their diverse cultural
heritage. It is also an opportunity for you to learn about the traditions
and outstanding contributions of Aboriginal Peoples across this province.
Here is a brief history of the origins of National
1982 National Indian Brotherhood (now the Assembly of
First Nations) calls for the creation of June 21st as National Aboriginal
1995 The Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples
recommends the designation of a National First Peoples Day.
The Sacred Assembly, a national conference of Aboriginal and
non-Aboriginal people chaired by Elijah Harper, calls for a national holiday
to celebrate the contributions of Aboriginal peoples.
June 13 – Former Governor General Roméo LeBlanc declares
June 21st as National Aboriginal Day after consultations with various
June 21 – National Aboriginal Day is first celebrated with
events from coast to coast to coast.
Today, National Aboriginal Day is part of an annual
nationwide Celebration with festivities held from June 21st to July 1st.
They begin with National Aboriginal Day, are followed by Saint-Jean-Baptiste
Day, Canadian Multiculturalism Day and Canada Day. June 21st was chosen
because of the cultural significance of the summer solstice (first day of
summer and longest day of the year) and because many Aboriginal groups mark
this day as a time to celebrate their heritage. Setting aside a day for
Aboriginal Peoples is part of wider recognition of Aboriginal Peoples'
important place within the fabric of Canada and their ongoing contributions
as First Peoples. By sharing our knowledge and experience, we will move
towards a greater understanding and harmony among all members and staff of
Aboriginal Elder Glen Smoke was asked to
describe what National Aboriginal Day or the solstice (longest day of the
year) meant to him. These are his words:
“When the day begins…just before sunrise
…we settle into the heart of Mother Earth, step through the Sacred Hoop
while our Elders smudge us and we become the Living Medicine Wheel. This day
is the time when we join our global family in honour to World Peace and all
things the Creator has given us - . We circle closely to hear the welcoming
words of our ancestors, “We learn to listen and we listen to learn”. There
will be no microphones, amplifiers or other recordings of the words spoken
during this time. We are following traditional ways in that we use the
senses the Creator has given us to listen, see, hear, learn, remember, smell
the cedar, sage, sweet grass and tobacco, touch each other as we join hands,
celebrate, honour and respect the light within us and share that light with
others. It is a time to give thanks to the Creator for all things – the four
legged, the two legged, the swimmers, the flyers, the flowers, the trees and
plants - and we will share these things with open hearts and arms with all.
Aboriginal Peoples value a legacy of oral tradition that provides an account
of each group's origins, history, spirituality, lessons of morality, and
life skills. Stories bind a community with its past and future, and oral
traditions reach across generations, from elder to child. They bear witness
to how women and men were created and populated the land. These descriptions
of genesis are as varied as the religions of the Aboriginal Peoples, but all
maintain that life began on the North American continent.
Pauline Saulnier, the OPSEU Chair of Aboriginal Circle,
would like to report that at the OPSEU 2010 Convention, a resolution was
passed that June 21 2010 will be recognized as a National Aboriginal
Holiday. It is also the year that the Federal government recognizes 2010 to
year of the Métis. In Solidarity, the OPSEU Aboriginal Circle asks that each
and everyone take a moment during this day to come and participate for a
little while at one of the various events happening across Ontario.
Participate and share in the
celebrations, festivals and PowWows happening across our regions. Find a
Band office or go on-line where you can find an Aboriginal celebration in
your area. Take the time to learn and participate and remember the words of
the Ancestors – “We learn to listen and listen to learn”.
To find an aboriginal celebration in your area, go to: