National Indigenous History Month
In 2009, with the passing of a unanimous motion in the House of Commons, June was declared National Indigenous History Month. Each June, Canadians are invited to celebrate the heritage, diverse cultures and outstanding achievements of First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples by taking part in National Indigenous History Month events and festivities. Due to the seriousness of the COVID-19 crisis, the Government of Canada is asking Canadians to commemorate this year’s National Indigenous History Month and National Indigenous Peoples Day from home. Keep yourself, your family and your community safe by following instructions from health officials and other trusted, reliable sources.
National Indigenous Peoples History Month is a time to acknowledge the role Indigenous peoples played, and continued to play, in the development of Canada, to honour Indigenous heritage and to celebrate Indigenous cultures. It is also an opportunity to reflect on the strength of present day First Nations, Métis and Inuit communities, and their hopes for the future.
You can learn more about the unique heritage, diverse cultures and outstanding contributions of First Nations, Inuit, and Métis peoples by reading a digital copy of one the books from the #IndigenousReads reading list or by exploring a virtual exhibit at your favourite museum.
OPSBA statement on the finding of the remains of 215 children in Kamloops
This year, however, we are saddened by the discovery of the remains of 215 children who attended residential school in Kamloops. We are reminded that advancing reconciliation means confronting our shared history in Canada.
For generations, and as part of national policy, Indigenous children were forcibly removed from their families and placed in care of church authorities and Canadian Government agents, representing a dark chapter in our country’s history.
We recognize that this discovery will provide yet another traumatizing experience for Indigenous communities. Our school boards are committed to working with Indigenous communities in Ontario to seek reconciliation in the days ahead.
National Indigenous Peoples Day
June 21 is National Indigenous Peoples Day. June 21 was chosen because of the cultural significance of the summer solstice – the first day of summer and longest day of the year, the rebirth of Mother Earth – and because many Indigenous Peoples communities mark this day as a time to celebrate their heritage. Setting aside a day for First Nations, Métis and Inuit peoples is part of the wider recognition of their primary and founding place within the fabric of Canada and their ongoing contributions as First Peoples. This is a special day to celebrate the unique heritage, diverse cultures and outstanding achievements of First Nation, Métis and Inuit peoples in Canada.
It was in 1982 that the National Indian Brotherhood (now the Assembly of First Nations) called for the creation of June 21 as National Aboriginal Solidarity Day. This call was renewed in 1995 when The Sacred Assembly, a national conference of Indigenous and non-Indigenous people chaired by Elijah Harper, called for a national holiday to celebrate the contributions of Indigenous peoples. In 1996, National Aboriginal Day was proclaimed by former Governor General Roméo A. LeBlanc.
This has now become a day in the Canadian calendar when First Nation, Métis and Inuit peoples express pride in their rich diverse cultures with their families, neighbours, friends and visitors.
National Indigenous Peoples Day is a day for the Ontario Public School Boards’ Association, its member boards and for all of Canada to honour the traditions, cultures, languages and contributions of First Nation, Métis and Inuit peoples.
We offer a warm thank you to the First Nations trustees who serve on OPSBA’s Indigenous Trustees’ Council and school boards across the province. We send greetings and good wishes to First Nation, Métis and Inuit students, parents, teachers and communities on this day of celebration.