Every June 21, Canada recognizes Indigenous people across the country by celebrating their culture and the contributions of First Nations, Inuit, and Metis. But, recognizing and learning about their history and culture should not be something Canadians should focus on for one day of the year. This is a great day to not only celebrate First Nations in our country, but also a time for people to learn and hear stories of their ways of life.
There’s also National Day for Truth and Reconciliation Day on Sept. 30 of each year and reconciliation continues to be a needed talking point across the country as all Canadians work towards an end goal of being united as one. As Chief Cadmus Delorme stated when he visited W.R. Myers High School in Taber this past spring: “The Indigenous canoe and Canada canoe have to align — that is reconciliation. Indigenous people are not asking Canada to slow down the canoe, Indigenous people are not trying to go down another river — all Indigenous people want is for the canoe to catch up so we can be like how our ancestors were, but adapt to Canada as well.”
This is an invaluable lesson that is being taught in schools and it’s something everyone can work on at their own pace, but it is something that needs to happen. There were unspeakable things done to Indigenous people throughout the last several hundred years and while that can never be taken back, learning from the past and making Canada home to everyone within should be a priority for all. The last residential school closed in 1997 and that isn’t that long ago. The discovery of unmarked graves near some of those schools was another eye-opening discovery and shows another need for healing for Indigenous people across Canada. It will take time, but we hope First Nations across Canada can recover after some much-needed grieving.
This is a part of another larger conversation around Canada being a multicultural country that is proud to host all sorts of different cultures and nations within and is not only accepting but also showing that we want to learn about how we can make all feel comfortable. Celebrating cultures different from your own is a great way to show support as well. And in our experience, Indigenous leaders in the area are more than happy to share their stories and culture with anyone who asks. Expanding your knowledge is never a bad thing and learning from the people who first called Canada home is a great way to expand your understanding of the hundreds of years of Canada.
We’re all Canadians and we should be recognizing the incredible contributions Indigenous cultures continue to bring to the country we call home.