THUNDER BAY – This June 21 is the 20th anniversary of National Aboriginal Day, and most likely the last year we will be referring to this title. Next year, we will be celebrating National Indigenous Day, or more appropriately, National Indigenous and Reconciliation Day. Moving forward, we should not just be celebrating Indigenous culture but, more importantly, educating Canadians about who we are, and how we want to secure our rightful place in this country.
National Aboriginal Day 2016 really does mark the end of an era and the beginning of a new relationship between First Nations and Canadians. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s (TRC) 94 Calls to Action; the Political Accord signed between the Province and the Chiefs of Ontario; and the federal government’s number one priority on improving relations with Indigenous peoples will all play a significant role in how we celebrate June 21st in the years to come.
We do have much to celebrate this year. On May 30th, Premier Kathleen Wynne issued a heartfelt and historic Statement of Reconciliation. Both Ontario and Canada have officially adopted the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP). Both Ontario and Canada are committed to implementing all 94 of the TRC’s Calls to Action. This really is a groundbreaking reason to celebrate our culture, and celebrate the serious commitment to improve socio-economic conditions for all our Peoples.
The TRC Calls to Action begin with eradicating poverty and poor health, ending child welfare and Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, and improving education outcomes. The Calls to Action end with educating Canadians about our history and commemorating and preserving the terrible legacy of Residential Schools so everyone will remember and be reminded of Canada’s attempts at cultural genocide.
On June 21st, 2016, and moving into the future, the longest day of the year – the Summer Solstice – will forever be the day that marks when the sun shines stronger than ever upon our Peoples. We will celebrate our culture, our history, our children, our Elders. We will celebrate our rightful place in Canada.
Chief Isadore Day
Ontario Regional Chief