To mark National Indigenous Peoples Day this year, we asked two PSAC BC members to reflect on the date and what it means for them. Here’s what they had to say:
Jenny Macleod, PSAC BC Regional Council Indigenous Peoples Coordinator
Sisters, Brothers, and Friends,
June 21 is a day to celebrate the Indigenous peoples of Canada. This year, I would like to focus on the positive and beauty that my culture brings to our country. Through awareness and education my hope is we can help each other move forward with more understanding of our past tragedies and a higher self-respect for ourselves as a people.
As a young woman growing up, I did not have the privilege of knowing my culture. My Irish-English mother raised me but I wanted to know where my father came from. All I knew was that he was Cree and from Alberta. I found out later in life my father was a residential school survivor. I had a lot of anger when I was younger. Angry he left and angry he was an alcoholic. It wasn’t until I started learning about my culture that I let all the anger go. I was never taught Cree beading or traditional dances. I was thirty years old before I tasted bannock. Yet I have strong desire to learn about all of them. There is something inside me that awakens when I hear the drumming circle. I cried during my first smudge. I have so much respect for the ones preserving our language, the medicine and for those who make it their goal to build up the pride of our younger generation. Our people, our culture is beautiful from coast to coast to coast.
Proud to be Cree, proud to be me.
Jenny Macleod, Indigenous Member
Ruby Langan, UNE National Equity Representative for Aboriginal Peoples and Co-Chair of the PSAC BC Mainland Human Rights Committee
Sisters, Brothers, and Friends,
June 21 is National Indigenous Peoples Day, the day set aside as the day to celebrate the Indigenous peoples of Canada. How do you want to mark the date? Would you support making National Indigenous Peoples Day a national holiday? The whole country should use June 21 to celebrate and honour the original peoples of this land.
As we mark National Indigenous Peoples Day on the calendar, there is still much to learn, whether historical or current events, and much to do. We are all part of a transformative time in which we all have an imperative to take action and work toward true reconciliation – both Indigenous Peoples and their allies. Allies need to share the responsibility of ensuring we move toward a future founded on integrity, good relationships, empathy and trust. To help with this important initiative I offer some suggestions:
Learn the history
- Indigenous peoples as allies, treaty making
- Indigenous peoples as wards of the state, the Indian Act, apartheid, genocide, residential school barbarity, Metis scrip, Inuit relocation
Monitor current events
- Follow the Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women and Girls (MMIWG) Inquiry
- Learn about the United Nations Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP)
- Familiarize yourself with the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) and read the TRC Reports
- Find out about the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples (RCAP)
- Educate yourself on the Sixties Scoop
- Learn about pipelines and resources, and the duty to consult
- Ask questions about the Indigenous chapter in North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA)
There is so much we need to accomplish. To learn. To feel. To heal. Small steps taken today will move us forward together to a Canada that recognizes the human rights of all peoples. Together, we can change laws and shift attitudes. But that Canada depends on what we’re willing to do today as Indigenous Peoples and allies.
All my relations,
Ruby Langan, Indigenous Member