Today, we celebrate National Indigenous Peoples Day. This is a day for us to reflect upon the many contributions that First Nation, Metis, and Inuit individuals and communities have made throughout history. These include, but are not limited to:
· Accomplishments in music, visual arts, drama, dance, sewing, beading, storytelling, poetry, and creative writing.
· Traditions that have either produced or sustained gifts in our natural world, such as crops, plants, herbs, animals, fresh air, and water.
· Structures that honour freedom, democracy, collaboration, individuality, trade, and equality.
· Medicines, knowledge, and ways of life that helped many people, including settlers, to survive and navigate in a sometimes harsh climate.
· Acts of bravery and heroism in war, including the World Wars.
· Creation of and/or excellence in games and pastimes that continue to be enjoyed today, such as lacrosse and hockey.
· Inventions, technologies and architectures that are still in use today, such as the canoe.
These are, of course, not a full list of the contributions of Indigenous peoples. The above list is intended to make us think about the impact Indigenous peoples have had on many things that we take for granted and should not.
Today is also a day for us to reflect on the many challenges and indignities that Indigenous people have experienced throughout the centuries. The relatively recent discovery of the remains of 215 children in Kamloops was a stark reminder of the residential school system that was in place throughout Canada. Many people believe that this system was something in place centuries ago. In truth, the last residential school closed within our lifetime.
However, the residential school system is not the only one that has had widespread effects upon Indigenous people: the Sixties Scoop and the deliberate shooting of dogs in the northern territories are but two others that we need to become familiar with if we are ever to reach reconciliation. It is for this reason that, on this National Indigenous Peoples Day, I urge each of you to take time individually and with those with whom you work to become better educated.
To access a resources kit for more information on this day click here.
Rose Burton Spohn, Director of Education