National Indigenous Peoples Day (NIPD) is meant to recognize and celebrate the vibrant culture, diversity and contributions of Indigenous peoples across Canada. It falls annually on June 21, which also marks the beginning of the summer solstice. However, this year is different, on June 21, Ontario Regional Chief RoseAnne Archibald is calling for this day to be a National Day of Action, with the theme of “Infuse the System with Love and Care.”
Martin Luther King said, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that”. Systemic and institutionalized racism in Canada cannot be driven out with more anger and hate. Regional Chief Archibald is calling on Canadians and non-Canadian alike to join us in bridging the divide by sharing, extending and expressing the deep and abiding love and care that they have for their Black, Indigenous and People of Colour (BIPOC) family and friends.
“What we learned from the global pandemic is that we are all connected. What happens to one of us happens for all of us,” said Regional Chief Archibald. “This year, on June 21, we will repurpose National Indigenous Peoples Day and use it as a platform to start down the path toward racial equity and justice, and continuing the conversation to end systemic racism and violence against First Nations and Black, Indigenous and People of Colour (BIPOC). I am requesting that everyone find a way to turn National Indigenous Peoples Day into a National Day of Action and work locally to host an event, whether it’s a peaceful public and COVID-safe event or finding an online way to bring about change.
It will need a collective effort, and I ask our allies, Canadians and non-Canadians, to join me to ‘Infuse the System with Love and Care.’ Together, we can eliminate systemic racism and demand action against injustices and inequalities faced by First Nations and BIPOC across Canada, now and into the future. “We build the systems together for our society, and often we think about systems for efficiency, rather than as systems that care for us and help us to grow and become a better society. The policing system and all government systems are long overdue for an overhaul so that BIPOC can be treated fairly and equitably.”
Other upcoming actions are:
July 1, by the Eastern Regional Chiefs in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia in the memory of Rodney Levi, Chantel Moore and others who have lost their lives due to senseless violence and systemic racism.
July 2, a call for prayer will take place in respect of Chief Allan Adams of Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation, who was brutally beaten by the RCMP.
Also, Beginning on June 21, the Chiefs of Ontario will be sharing via social media informational tools such as online resources, virtual events and simple acts of kindness that everyone can learn from and participate in. These resources will be geared toward amplifying the voices of our First Nations and BIPOC counterparts to help create a better understanding and bridge the racial divide to address the systemic racism that impacts our daily lives.
“This journey will be a marathon, not a sprint, and it is a worthy cause we must all embrace. The only way to reach true racial equity and justice is with the help of our allies. Although it is a long road ahead, we cannot rest until our communities are safe and we can all live in peace.
We also encourage you to practice the following suggestions to further the conversation on systemic racism through actions and activities such as listening to the stories and shared histories, educating yourself through published literature and essays by BIPOC authors, and learning through language podcasts, documentaries and film.
On National Indigenous Peoples Day, I am calling for allyship, but most of all, I am calling for peaceful acts to decry racism, police brutality and violence against BIPOC. Please support our calls and work locally to find a way to bring about change. Remember to be safe, practice preventive measures and lead from a place of a deep and abiding love for one another.
Ontario Regional Chief RoseAnne Archibald