Celebrating National Indigenous History Month

By Sean Delaney

June is National Indigenous History Month in Canada, a time to recognize and celebrate the rich

history, heritage, resilience, and diversity of First Nations, Inuit, and Métis peoples. It’s an

opportunity for all Canadians to learn more about Indigenous cultures and their contributions to

our society. Indigenous histories and cultures are foundational to Canada’s identity. The

knowledge passed down by Elders and Knowledge Keepers connects families, communities,

and generations, preserving a legacy that has withstood centuries of colonial policies designed

to erase it. Recognizing this history is not just about acknowledging the past; it’s about

understanding and appreciating the resilience and strength of Indigenous communities today.

During June, there are several ways to get involved and show support. One of the best ways to

honour Indigenous history is by educating ourselves. Many resources, including the

Government of Canada’s website, offer information about Indigenous cultures, languages, and

significant historical events, are available online. You can also find stories and teachings directly

from Indigenous voices.

Throughout Canada, a myriad of vibrant events are planned to celebrate National Indigenous

History Month. For instance, National Indigenous Peoples Day on June 21st is a joyous

occasion marked by cultural performances, traditional feasts, and educational activities. These

events offer a unique opportunity to immerse yourself in Indigenous cultures and show your

support for local Indigenous communities. In Toronto, the City will host its annual Sunrise

Ceremony at Nathan Phillips Square at 5:30 a.m. This sacred ceremony, led by Elder Garry

Sault of the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation, includes a traditional Water Ceremony and

teachings from Knowledge Keeper Kim Wheatley. It’s a breathtaking way to start the day by

expressing gratitude for all of creation and celebrating Mino Baamodziwin (The Good Life).

Another way to actively contribute to reconciliation is by supporting Indigenous-owned

businesses and artists. This not only sustains these businesses but also amplifies the rich

cultural expressions of Indigenous peoples. This month is also a time for personal reflection on

the ongoing journey of reconciliation. It’s crucial for each of us to recognize the impacts of

Canada’s colonial history, including the residential school system, and to actively support

initiatives aimed at healing and building a better future. Reconciliation involves all of us, and it

starts with our awareness and understanding. Explore books, films, and music by Indigenous

creators. The National Film Board of Canada, for example, features a range of documentaries

and films that highlight Indigenous stories and perspectives.

Taking these steps not only enriches our understanding but also helps to build stronger, more

inclusive communities. National Indigenous History Month is a chance for all Canadians to come

together to recognize and celebrate Indigenous contributions to our shared heritage. For more

information on participating and accessing learning resources, visit the Government of Canada’s

website on Indigenous commemorative days. Let’s make this June a month of learning,

celebrating, and advancing reconciliation together.