National Indigenous Peoples Day celebrated from Pickering to Clarington to Scugog Island

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Published June 21, 2023 at 11:28 am

Today is National Indigenous Peoples Day, a day to honour the First Nations, Inuit and Metis people of Canada and Turtle Island and to acknowledge the challenges they have faced and continue to overcome.

“We honour the resilience and strength within us, turning adversity into opportunities for growth and empowerment,” declared a statement from the Mississaugas of Scugog Island. “Today, let’s engage in meaningful conversations, support Indigenous-led initiatives, and cultivate inclusive spaces that promote healing and understanding. Together, let’s educate ourselves and work towards meaningful change.”

A young student named Mikya shared a story about growing up indigenous and why National Indigenous People’s Day is so important to her people and especially to her generation:

“This morning I woke up in my own comfy bed. I ate breakfast and spent time with my Mom, Dad and my sister Alyana. Why am I telling you this? The last residential school closed in 1996. That was 27 years ago. If I was me in 1996 I could have been sent to residential school. We could have been taken from our family, from our culture and forced to live in a way that would affect us and our family for many years to come. We would not be called by our Indigenous names and we would not be allowed to attend public school.

This day is to honour Indigenous people and to recognize all that that they have been through.”

Mikya also asked that people take the time to learn about the 94 Calls to Action and become an ally to First Nations people.

“We all have our own values, beliefs, culture and religion. Let’s take action so that we can live in a place where we feel safe to be who we are.

Clarington Mayor Adrian Foster also offered his words on the importance of National Indigenous History Month and National Indigenous Peoples Day, calling it a “significant occasion” to recognize and honour the contributions, rich heritage and vibrant culture of First Nations, Inuit, and Métis Peoples.

“This is a remarkable opportunity for our community to come together, engage, and learn from the diverse Indigenous cultures that have shaped our nation. It is a chance to deepen our understanding, foster meaningful connections, and celebrate the enduring spirit of Indigenous Peoples.”

Foster also asked that residents take a moment to “honour and appreciate” the unique and profound dedication of Indigenous peoples to the lands. “Their wisdom, traditions, and customs have greatly enriched the lives of those across Turtle Island. It is important that we acknowledge and respect their remarkable heritage,” he said, adding that the day also serves as a reminder of “our ongoing commitment” to reconciliation.

“It is an opportunity to reflect on our shared history, recognize past injustices, and work together toward building a stronger, more inclusive Clarington. Together, let us celebrate with joy, respect, and a renewed commitment to a more inclusive and harmonious future.”

To honour National Indigenous History Month, the Medicine Wheel flag was raised at Durham Regional Headquarters in Whitby June 1 and will fly all month, with Durham Chair John Henry honouring Indigenous peoples as the “traditional stewards of the lands and waters on which we have the privilege to operate.”

“Durham Region is committed to advancing truth and reconciliation and is actively working toward building and renewing relationships to address past inequities; to continue our learning journey and create spaces for healing.”

The Mississaugas of Scugog Island First Nation thanked all allies for their support and asked Durham Region residents to “join us in celebrating the diverse Indigenous cultures that have shaped our land and continue to enrich our society.”

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