Good morning Tri-Cities! June 21st marks the annual celebration of National Aboriginal Day. It’s a chance for all Canadians to learn more about our country’s history and to celebrate our diversity. Here are some interesting facts to know about the day.
Who are Aboriginal/Indigenous people?
There are approximately 1.4 million people of Indigenous descent in Canada, typically referring to three distinct cultural groups:
First Nations: Status and non-status Indians
Métis: Culture derived from the mixing of First Nations and European settlers
Inuit: Inhabitants of the northern territories
World War I and World War II
Indigenous people from across Canada had the highest rates of joining the armed forces during both the First and Second World War. Fighting in every major battle, they were determined to defend the land; not necessarily for Europe’s reasons for conflict.
The Indian Act
In 1867, the Indian Act was enacted, this allowed the government to control most aspects of aboriginal life. Between 1879 and 1996, tens of thousands of First Nations children were forced to attend residential schools designed to make them forget their language and culture and many suffered from abuse. This policy sought to “kill the Indian in the child”.
First Aboriginal Day
The first celebrated National Aboriginal Day was in 1996, after it was proclaimed by Roméo LeBlanc, our then Governor General of Canada, to be celebrated annually on June 20th. Thus, making 2019 the 23rd annual celebration of this day!
Importance of June 21
June 21st was chosen as the statutory holiday as it signifies the Summer Solstice and it is a day in which many Aboriginal groups would traditionally celebrate their heritage.
Nonetheless, National Aboriginal Day serves to celebrate the heritage, diverse cultures and outstanding achieves of First nations, Métis and Inuits