Aboriginal day in Canada: its significance
Hello all and happy Aboriginal day! Yes on this June 21, it is Aboriginal day in Canada! A day
dedicated to the traditions and culture of the First Nations people. In this post, I want to explore more in depth the meaning and significance of the day, my experience with it. So here we go!
What is Aboriginal day?
Well according to the Government of Canada, Aboriginal day, June 21, is “a day for all Canadians to recognize and celebrate the unique heritage, diverse cultures and outstanding contributions of First Nations, Inuit and Metis peoples”. As those are the three recognized groups of Aboriginal people in Canada. For more on Metis people, see this post of mine.
Each Nation, group, tribe, however you choose to call it, though, has its own traditions, stories, language and they all need to be celebrated. Thus Aboriginal day is a day of celebrating heritage, traditions, culture, beliefs and language of all Aboriginal people.
How did it begin?
Well if you ask me, it is about time there is a dedicated day of the year to the original people of the land, to the Indigenous people of this land. The ones who were there long before Canada was “discovered”. But the process officially began over 30 years ago, in 1982, when the Assembly of First Nations (then called the National Indian Brotherhood, a cool name if you ask me) asked for the creation of a day dedicated to the First Nations people of Canada. They then called it the National Aboriginal Solidarity day (another cool name if you ask me).
Following suit the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples also made a case for a day designated to First Nations people in 1995. And…. finally, the Sacred Assembly, a national conference of both Native and non-Native people asked for the same, a holiday to recognize the contributions of the Indigenous people of this country. FINALLY, 14 years after the National Indian Brotherhood made a plea, National Aboriginal day was proclaimed in 1996 by then Governor General Romeo Leblanc. A mere 14 years to come to a decision. That was quick….not
That’s all fine and dandy but why June 21?
Ah good question there! Well June 21 is the Summer Solstice and within the Native culture, every change of season is important and recognized. Especially the solstice and equinox. The Summer Solstice is when the “light overcomes the darkness”. If we think about the Medicine wheel it is the change in the south direction. The south direction is a direction associated with adolescence, growth, of growing outward, as we find ourselves. And think about everything that grows in the summer time. Mother Earth is at her fullest, resources from the Earth are plentiful, the harshness of winter is over. It is a time to celebrate. And Aboriginal people know how to celebrate!
So across the country you will find events with drumming, dancing, singing, story telling, arts and crafts and of course Bannock! I went to one event today and you should have seen the line to get bannock! Holy crap, it was almost a kilometer long! But again, why was there only one bannock stand? Like really, come on people! So no I did not get bannock but got a whole bunch of cool art directly from the artist, Mike Dangeli, a very talented West Coast artist (Nisga’a,Tlingit and Tsimshian Nation) with nice west coast style tattoos. Click on his name to know more about him 🙂 I will make the office one heck of a cool Native office!
What is your experience with Aboriginal day? Any favorites? Or is this new to you? Share below 🙂