Director’s Message for National Indigenous Peoples Day – June 21
As you know, June is National Indigenous History Month. Today is a special day, as we recognize National Indigenous Peoples Day, which celebrates the culture and heritage of many Indigenous Peoples and communities, on the longest day of the year.
Each year, this is a day to celebrate Indigenous Peoples and communities in ways that honor their living legacies, ancestors, unique cultures and traditions. As a nation, it is clear that we have much to learn, many silenced voices to hear, and urgent requests to act upon.
This continues to be highlighted with the discovery of an increasing number of unmarked graves with children’s remains at former residential school sites. It is important that we read and act on the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada: Calls to Action. These calls require us to learn in new ways and new areas, including about the purpose and intention of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) as the framework for reconciliation.
Confronting the truths of Canadian history will change our view of ourselves, and of the genocide Indigenous Peoples endured. We must be aware of the legacy of broken treaties, residential schools, Indian Day Schools, the Sixties Scoop, the Millennial Scoop, Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Girls and Two Spirit people, and other examples of anti-Indigenous oppression.
There are also stories to celebrate. Maintaining an Indigenous identity is a feat of perseverance, and one that we can deeply respect and admire. We are fortunate to welcome Indigenous students and families in HWDSB schools, and to have an opportunity to improve how education serves them. There are many ways to honour Indigenous Peoples on this day, and moving forward, as we learn about Indigenous ways of knowing, being and doing – and commit to action.
The City of Hamilton invites everyone to celebrate this year’s National Indigenous History month and National Indigenous Peoples Day virtually. The Urban Indigenous Strategy will be hosting a virtual National Indigenous Peoples Day Event on June 21, 2021 at noon on the City of Hamilton’s YouTube Channel.
At HWDSB, we will continue to learn with our heads and open hearts, act upon this understanding, and improve how we support Indigenous students and families. Thank you for helping to honour this important day.
Nya:wen (thank you) for your attention to this important topic.
Director of Education