National Indigenous Peoples Day

June 21, 2022

National Indigenous Peoples Day is celebrated to honour the unique heritage, diverse cultures and outstanding contributions of First Nations, Métis and Inuit peoples. National Indigenous Peoples Day was first celebrated as National Aboriginal Day in 1996, after it was proclaimed by the Governor General of Canada, Roméo LeBlanc. This date was chosen as a holiday for many reasons, including its cultural significance as the summer solstice and because it is a day on which many Indigenous peoples and communities traditionally celebrate
their heritage.

It was renamed in 2017 because the name Aboriginal did not properly describe its people, in Latin prefix, the “ab” in aboriginal means “away” or “not”. So, the word Aboriginal could mean “not original”. The Latin word “Indigena” means “sprung from the land; native”, therefore, using the word “Indigenous”, including “peoples after the word recognizes there are more than one group of indigenous persons. The Truth and Reconciliation report highlighted the struggles Indigenous people have faced due to colonialism, Residential Schools, the Sixties Scoop, broken treaties, and the Indian Act.

On June 21, National Indigenous Peoples Day, let’s recommit ourselves to writing a different narrative by celebrating Indigenous culture and daily acts of reconciliation. Every year on National Indigenous Peoples Day, people from every corner in the province are strongly encouraged to celebrate 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 Bannock and moose stew

Last year, the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls issued its long awaited report that characterizes the violence inflicted against Indigenous women, girls, and 2SLGBTQQIA people as genocide. We each must take action in our unions and communities to implement the recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. The YFL encourages affiliates to support the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (TRC) recommendation 80, which calls for a statutory holiday for Truth and Reconciliation. Declaring June 21 a statutory holiday is one step toward re writing the narrative of Canadian history into one of reconciliation that honours the cultures and achievements of First Nations, Métis and Inuit peoples.

Ron Rousseau
Yukon Federation of Labour

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