International Observance: Canada’s Aboriginal Day

Aboriginal celebration in Canada. Courtesy Wikimedia Commons.THURSDAY, JUNE 21: O Canada!

Canadians are in the midst of their “Celebrate Canada” days—which include Canadian Multiculturalism Day, St. Jean-Baptiste Day and Canada Day—and today, citizens pause to recognize some of the land’s first residents, on National Aboriginal Day. After several requests and attempts, National Aboriginal Day was set into place in 1996, to be observed annually on June 21. (Get details from Wikipedia and Canada’s Aboriginal Affairs.) Formally, the day recognizes the cultures and contributions of First Nations, the Inuit and the Metis peoples; festivities mirror this recognition.

First Nations have another reason to celebrate today: For the first time in almost 90 years, a 6-ton boulder of aboriginal engravings is being returned to the B.C. Interior. First Nation members attest that, “It’s healing for us.” (Read the whole article in the Vancouver Sun.) The boulder is covered in petroglyphs: images of serpents, deer and elk.

Younger members of First Nations are also hoping for a brighter future, as they request a “proper” high school of their own. It’s reported that a total of seven teenagers have died while attending nearby Thunder Bay High School, and young people say this location isn’t safe for their people. (The First Perspective, an indigenous news source, has the story.) The current Webequie First Nation high school only teaches through 10th grade.

Want a firsthand Indian perspective?
ReadTheSpirit publishes the memoir of Warren Petoskey
, a well-known advocate for Indian concerns who is part of the Odawa people. The Odawa homeland once spanned Michigan and Ontario and these families moved regularly through the Great Lakes waterways.

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