On June 21, Canadians everywhere will celebrate National Indigenous Day. The annual observation is an outstanding opportunity to honour and experience the unique heritage, diverse cultures, and outstanding achievements and contributions of our country’s First Nations, Métis and Inuit peoples.
Included in the day’s activities and events are:
- summer solstice festivals
- social networking gatherings with traditional and contemporary music, dance and song
- sacred fire extinguishing ceremonies
- traditional feasts, which may include fried bread and moose stew
OPSEU marks every National Indigenous Day by reaffirming its unwavering solidarity with Indigenous peoples. Union members from every corner in the province are strongly encouraged to celebrate National Indigenous Day by participating in events that highlight the achievements Indigenous peoples have made throughout history.
This year we celebrate a milestone. Twenty years ago, Governor General Roméo LeBlanc officially proclaimed the first National Aboriginal Day. June 21 was chosen because of its cultural significance as the summer solstice. It is also a traditional date for many Indigenous groups to pay homage to their rich and multifaceted heritage.
While National Indigenous Day is marked from coast to coast to coast, only in the Northwest Territories is it a statutory holiday. OPSEU’s Indigenous Circle is spearheading a campaign to make Indigenous Day a statutory holiday in Ontario.
“Having demonstrated its commitment to reconciling with Indigenous communities, it’s important and fitting that OPSEU lead the way on this initiative,” said Krista Maracle, chair of the Indigenous Circle.
OPSEU members are also invited to apply to attend the first biennial OPSEU Indigenous Conference, which will be held from September 30 to October 2, 2016. This year’s theme is Reconciling with Indigenous communities: OPSEU`s response to the Truth and Reconciliation Report. The conference will include presentations by Senator Murray Sinclair and Ontario Regional Chief Isadore Day.