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National Indigenous Peoples Day – June 21, 2024

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National Indigenous Peoples Day – June 21, 2024

National Indigenous Peoples Day, with white pine art.As part of National Indigenous History Month, June 21 is National Indigenous Peoples Day, also known as Solidarity Day. This message comes to you in the highest form of greetings, love and respect, in the language:

Mino Bimaadiziwin – Good Life (Anishnaabemowin – Ojibway Language, Martina Osawamick, Odawa, Beaver Clan, Wikwemikong Unceded Territory)

Wa’tkwanonhwerá:ton – I to all of you am sending greetings, love and respect, in a balanced way from my consciousness to yours, with deepest heartfelt emotion, expressed audibly. (Kanyen’keha – Mohawk Language, Tehahenteh, Mohawk, Six Nations, turtle clan).

On June 22, 2023, the Indigenous Education Lead was appointed to Executive Council, a day after National Indigenous Peoples Day. In this act of reconciliation, HWDSB set a standard for all school boards in recognizing and actioning the spirit and intent of Indigenous Education Leads to influence change at the senior administrative level.

In reflecting upon the cumulative events of this past school year, we celebrate two monumental milestones: the integration of Indigenous Educational Wellness & Reconciliation in the Board’s Multi-Year Strategic Plan (MYSP) and the release of the Indigenous Education Policy. The MYSP is “centred on students having a deep and meaningful sense of belonging while experiencing impactful learning outcomes for all”.

During the launch of the MYSP on January 17, system leaders, Board of Trustees, members from partner organizations and special guests witnessed a student’s testimony of his sense of belonging, pride and hope for the trajectory of healing intrinsic to the plan’s pillar: Reinforcing Indigenous Educational Wellness & Reconciliation. In the words of Daunte Hillen:

This plan includes us! We are witnesses to change.  We are seen, our stories are heard, we are part of the change.  My commitment as a student, is to continue to contribute to and participate in these changes.  The message from the Orange Shirt Day commemoration was and still is, We walk together. I aim for a future where Indigenous voices not only persist but actively contribute to shaping policies and practices, creating a lasting legacy of cultural understanding and educational excellence.

Daunte Hillen
Anishinaabe from Fort William First Nation,
Shakowennakará:tats/Epenmandaagaazod (they raise/lift their voices) Mohawk & Ojibwe
Cultivating Community: Reclaiming Our Spaces in Education (CC:ROSE)
Sherwood Secondary School

The persistence and perseverance of Indigenous voices, such as Daunte’s and that of the Indigenous Education Circle, in friendship with the Board of Trustees and Director of Education, actualized the Indigenous Education Policy, which was passed by the Board on June 17, 2024. This Policy serves as the foundation from which everything grows: Growing Together.   

The strength of this Policy is that it is rooted in relational accountability, grounded in our shared treaty agreement responsibilities and informed by the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples as Canada’s framework for reconciliation. In friendship with Six Nations of the Grand River, Mississaugas of the Credit, and the Indigenous Education Circle (IEC), HWDSB will continue to nurture this alliance, recognizing everyone has a responsibility to carry out their roles and responsibilities.

As stated by Director of Education, Sheryl Robinson Petrazzini at the Year End Celebration: Honouring Student Achievements on June 6:

HWDSB’s commitment is to fostering reconciliation in education and involves building respectful relationships, supporting healing, and promoting wellness in a restorative education system. We acknowledge the complexities of history and are dedicated to a patient, ongoing process for healing education for Indigenous Peoples and treaty partners. Our commitment aims for lasting transformation, creating a more equitable educational landscape for generations to come. 

As we approach June 21, the longest day of the year, we are reaching the end of a school year cycle and honour the culmination of all the hard work, commitment and dedication of all learners, families, staff and Trustees within the circle of HWDSB schools and systems. We also extend thanks to the community partners that help guide this shared opportunity toward Indigenous educational wellness.

Similar to the Haudenosaunee protocols of the Thanksgiving Address, these words have been offered with much respect, kindness and love. There is no intent to cause harm to anyone.  Apologies are extended if harm was caused or if anything was left out, that was not the intent.

As we unbind our minds, we leave you with this Kanyen’kéha (Mohawk) translation.

Be You: Sate’nikonhriyóhston, Make your mind well

Be Excellent: Tisateweyén:ton, Do your best

Skén:nen, In peace,

Jolene John (Yakónkwe, She/Her)
Mohawk Nation, Turtle Clan
Six Nations of the Grand River
Indigenous Education Lead (M.Ed.)

National Indigenous Peoples Day Events

Updated on Friday, June 21, 2024.
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