OTTAWA – For twenty years, June 21 has marked National Aboriginal Day in Canada. The day, which aligns with the summer solstice, is an important opportunity to celebrate the many remarkable achievements, vibrant diversity and heritage of Indigenous peoples. Assembly of First Nations (AFN) National Chief Perry Bellegarde made the following statement acknowledging this important day:
“This year marks the 20th anniversary of National Aboriginal Day. On June 21, we unite as Indigenous peoples to acknowledge our collective strength and resilience.
As we come together to celebrate our cultures and languages, we must also refocus our efforts on the path toward reconciliation. We will work with all Canadians to advance the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action, and with Canada to ensure federal legislation on the adoption and full implementation of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. We will work to close the gap in the quality of life and work with Canada on the commitment to ensure First Nations have sufficient, predictable and sustained funding reflecting an intergovernmental relationship.
In 2013, AFN Chiefs-in-Assembly passed a resolution calling for a renaming of this day to Indigenous Peoples Day, and the establishment of a national holiday.
On the 20th anniversary of National Aboriginal Day, we are poised on a new era of reconciliation, a time to renew our original relationship of partnership, respect and sharing. This is a time to be hopeful for what the future holds. A number of celebrations will be taking place across the country, and I encourage First Nations and all Canadians to participate in these events. It is an opportunity to get to know one another better. Education and awareness leads to understanding and action.
On behalf of the entire Assembly of First Nations, staff, and AFN Executive, I wish a peaceful and joyous National Aboriginal Day to peoples from all walks of life. Today and every day we stand as proud First Nations peoples and will continue moving together toward reconciliation.”
On Tuesday, June 21, National Chief Bellegarde will be in Parry Sound, Ontario at the Charles W. Stockey Centre for the Performing Arts (2 Bay Street) to attend the unveiling of the monument commemorating Francis Pegahmagabow, the most highly decorated First Nations soldier in World War I. For more information visit: