National Indigenous History Month

By: The Hon. Judy White

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Hon. Judy A. White: Honourable senators, I rise today to recognize National Indigenous History Month. This month provides an opportunity for everyone across this country to learn about the cultures, traditions, customs and languages of First Nations, Inuit and Métis while reflecting on our shared history and its continued impact on Indigenous communities. The path towards true reconciliation requires raising awareness about Canada’s colonial past and its relationships with and treatment of First Nations, Métis and Inuit people. Without facing these difficult truths, we cannot build a better and truly inclusive future.

June is also a time to celebrate the stories, accomplishments, courage and resilience of Indigenous peoples, who have lived on this land since time immemorial. It’s a time to recognize the important economic, political, cultural and environmental contributions that Indigenous peoples continue to make through their leadership, activism and personal triumphs. In particular, I would highlight the need to learn from traditional knowledge and knowledge keepers in order to maintain valuable insights that can inform and improve our contemporary practices, including our relationship with the natural environment.

On a personal note, last week, I had the pleasure of co-hosting a celebration — with fellow Indigenous senators and our Speaker — for National Indigenous History Month on Parliament Hill. It was a truly wonderful evening, celebrating the rich and diverse cultures of First Nations, Métis and Inuit people through various performances, displays of art and, of course, food.

Colleagues, I would also like to take this moment to remind you that June 21 is National Indigenous Peoples Day. This day has been chosen due to its significance as the summer solstice and the longest day of the year. Accordingly, many Indigenous communities gather to celebrate their culture, customs and heritage on this day. In past years, I have had the joy of celebrating in my own community of Flat Bay through sunrise ceremonies, storytelling, song and dance.

In conclusion, I hope that all Canadians from coast to coast to coast will take some time this month to recognize and celebrate the history, heritage, resilience and diversity of First Nations, Inuit and Métis people across this country, while continuing to learn more about our collective past.

Wela’lin. Thank you.

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