On June 21, Canadians will celebrate National Indigenous Day. The annual observation is an 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.
The Truth and Reconciliation report highlighted the struggles Indigenous people have faced due to colonialism, Residential Schools, the Sixties Scoop, broken treaties, and the federal Indian Act. On June 21, National Indigenous Day, let’s recommit ourselves to writing a different narrative by celebrating Indigenous culture and daily acts of reconciliation.
Every year on National Indigenous Day, OPSEU reaffirms 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. Events can include:
- 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
This year, OPSEU members from across the province will attend the second biennial OPSEU Indigenous Conference, to be held from June 22nd to June 24th, 2018. This year’s theme is Cultural Reclamation and Restoration: Weaving Culture Back Into Our Blanket.” The goal is to inspire and equip OPSEU members to partner and work with Indigenous communities during this time of reconciliation. The Conference is being planned with elders and community members of Wikwemikong Unceded First Nation.
It is time that June 21 be recognized as a National Statutory Holiday throughout Canada — one of the recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. OPSEU’s Indigenous Circle is spearheading a campaign to make Indigenous Day a statutory holiday in Ontario. In September 2017 the OPSEU June 21st Campaign held the first Circle of Reconciliation Pow Wow on the lawn of Queens Park, attracting the attention of the MPPs on the importance of recognizing Indigenous people in Ontario.
For more information on National Indigenous Day celebrations check out the following webpages: