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Recognizing and Honouring Indigenous History Month

Since 2009, June has served as National Indigenous History Month in Canada – a time to celebrate the innumerable cultures, traditions, and histories that comprise Indigeneity.  First Nations, Inuit, and Métis peoples have been living on this land, sharing their histories, and connecting with one another for time immemorial. Their experiences form the bedrock of this country – yet too often their histories are not centred on the national scale. This month is an opportunity to make a change for the better and to give Indigenous history the credence it warrants.


The word, Indigenous, is a canopy term itself – but it cannot encompass the multiplicity of lived experiences, within the communities it represents. Yes, First Nations, Inuit, and Métis peoples have coexisted upon this land far beyond the chapters of “Canadian history”. But these communities have always had distinct spiritual beliefs, cultural practices, and understandings of the world around them. Acknowledging that Indigenous identity is not singular, is a crucial part of celebrating this living history.

 

Equally as vital is recognizing the enduring aftermath of colonial violence. It’s no secret that Canada has much to make right regarding its treatment of First Peoples. The historical and ongoing subjugation and suppression of Indigenous voices, livelihoods, and freedoms have had unspeakably detrimental effects on communities across the country, many of whom are still pursuing answers, reparations, and reconciliation.

 

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s 94 Calls to Action defined reconciliation as the process of:

“establishing and maintaining a mutually respectful relationship between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal peoples in this country. In order for that to happen, there has to be awareness of the past, acknowledgement of the harm that has been inflicted, atonement for the causes, and action to change behaviour.”

Learning, understanding, and sharing history is an essential part of reconciling with the past, present, and future of Indigenous communities. The following resources serve as a mere fraction of Indigenous history:


 

Of course, we would like to reiterate that a willingness to unlearn is just as important as the drive to learn – true allyship requires a readiness to be challenged. We hope that this month will continue to serve as a reminder to celebrate First Nations, Inuit, and Métis history year-round, not simply come June. We wish you all a very illuminating Indigenous History Month.


“According to the settler stories of Indigenous deficiency, our people were supposed to vanish into the sunset long ago … In spite of all their hopes and ambitions, policies and practices, laws and customs, and assaults and editorials, our people are still here, as are our relations, as are our stories. In fact, our stories have been integral to that survival … They are good medicine. They remind us about who we are and where we’re going, on our own and in relation to those with whom we share this world. They remind us about the relationships that make a good life possible. In short, they matter." – Daniel Heath Justice

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