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Celebrating Indigenous Values and Mother Earth on National Indigenous Peoples Day, and Each and Every Day
The longest day of the year falls on June 21, when the life-giving sun shines longest in the northern hemisphere. Historically, it is revered for the renewal of the cycles of life and the seasons. The Canadian Government has also recognized this day as National Indigenous Peoples Day “to celebrate the unique heritage, diverse cultures, and outstanding achievements of Canada's Indigenous Peoples.”
On this land every day matters
It does not require a blessing from the Canadian government to validate millennia of Indigenous existence. Successive colonial and settler governments aimed to extinguish Indigenous culture and language in their thirst for mineral wealth and natural resources. This happened with little regard for the land, water, people, and creatures that lived here. This tragedy cannot be resolved merely through a “day of celebration”.
It can begin by how we reconcile our behaviour and live every day on this land. Let us recognize Indigenous heroes, whether it be the stories of Sitting Bull, the grandmothers at OKA, the water-keepers, the Idle No More movement and generations of struggle. There is a lot for us to absorb in order to make things right.
In 1995, the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples recommended the designation of a National First Peoples Day. Well-intentioned gestures, however, do not make for reconciliation. We have the opportunity to apply thousands of years knowledge and values to create a nurturing and caring society. The traditional system of Indigenous values did not permit profiteers to exploit the earth and did not treat workers as disposable objects. It did not treat life on the planet as a competition between winners and losers.