June 21 marks the 21st anniversary of National Aboriginal Day and a chance for Canadians to learn about the country’s history and to celebrate Canada’s diversity, including its First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples.
Many indigenous cultures have celebrated their heritage on or near this day due to the significance of the summer solstice as the longest day of the year.
These celebrations have been gaining more and more attention each year, says Lloyd Bloomfield, chair of the Alberta Teachers’ Association’s Committee on First Nations, Métis and Inuit Education.
“It’s about aboriginal cultural awareness, getting out there and seeing a powwow, seeing a round dance — it’s very powerful being a part of it,” Bloomfield said. “It’s learning about cultures in your backyard. We all get a chance to learn from one another.”
It’s a fact
The Northwest Territories has celebrated National Aboriginal Day as a statutory holiday since 2001.
Action No. 80 in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission report calls on the federal government to establish a National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, which would be a statutory holiday.
In 2009, the House of Commons agreed unanimously to adopt June as National Aboriginal History Month.
Information about creating your own Aboriginal Day events, as well as listings of planned activities and available learning resources, can be found on the official website, www.aadnc-aandc.gc.ca.
Nearly two dozen National Aboriginal Day events will be held across the province, beginning with the Government of Alberta’s kickoff celebration in Edmonton’s City Centre mall on Monday, June 19, from 11:30 a.m. to 1:15 p.m. ❚