Happy Indigenous Peoples Day 2021

Happy Indigenous Peoples Day! This year, Indigenous History Month has felt particularly heavy. We want to take this time to celebrate some of the many milestones First Nations, Métis, and Inuit Peoples have made in the first half of 2021. A lot of incredible work has been accomplished at a community level. We want to honour the strength, heritage, and cultures of Indigenous Peoples. #IndigenousPeoplesDayIsEveryday

1. Two Tłı̨chǫ communities made history when they elected a woman as Chief for the first time. Dorreen Arrowmaker was elected Chief in Gamètì, N.W.T., and Adeline Judas Football was elected Chief in Wekweètì, N.W.T. https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/north/women-chiefs-tlicho-communities-1.6067900

2. Shauna Alec from Lake Babine Nation received the Lenora Pritchard Award of Excellence in recognition of her work as the Early Childhood Director with Lake Babine Nation. https://www.burnslakelakesdistrictnews.com/news/shauna-alec-from-burns-lake-receives-provincial-recognition-in-early-childhood-education/

3. The federal government announced Indigenous Peoples can use their traditional names on government ID. https://www.aptnnews.ca/national-news/6-years-after-trc-call-to-action-indigenous-peoples-to-use-traditional-names-on-government-id/

4. Mi’kmaw student, Leah Creaser, created a lab at Acadia University to share traditional knowledge with future scientists. This lab is now a requirement for all first year biology students at Acadia University. https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/nova-scotia/mi-kmaq-traditional-knowledge-lab-leah-creaser-acadia-university-1.6026970

5. Nuu-chah-nulth healing practices were introduced to health care staff in Tofino. Chris Seitcher, Tia-o-qui-aht First Nation cultural support worker and Dr. Luke Williston arranged for cleansing ceremonies and healing sessions. Healing sessions were led by Chris Seitcher, Dwayne Martin, Nora Martin, and Hayden Seitcher. https://www.timescolonist.com/news/local/nuu-chah-nulth-healing-practices-introduced-to-health-care-staff-in-tofino-1.24305869

6. Anishinaabe/Cree filmmaker, Kevin Settee, created The Lake Winnipeg Project, a 4-part documentary series that highlights the ingenuity, resilience, and adaptability of 4 communities surrounding Lake Winnipeg: Matheson Island, Poplar River, Camp Morningstar, and Fisher Lake. The world premier is today! https://www.nfb.ca/series/lake-winnipeg-project/

7. Leaders from Heiltsuk Nation and the B.C. Provincial Government signed a reconciliation agreement that supports ongoing work to implement Heiltsuk title and rights. The agreement is called, “’mṇúxvs Nuáqi — One Mind, One Thought” and includes $23.3 million in provincial funding for the community to invest in housing, cultural preservation, environmental protections, and economic development. https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/heiltsuk-nation-reconciliation-agreement-2021-1.6071674

8. Youth from J.V. Clark School in Mayo, Yukon participated in a mural self-portrait project – an initiative a part of a holistic approach to mental wellness. Students that participated include Liam Samson and Irene Melancon of Na-Cho Nyak Dun First Nation and Cheyenne Gordon of Kwanlin Dün First Nation. https://www.aptnnews.ca/national-news/yukon-mural-project-gives-first-nations-students-holistic-approach-to-mental-wellness/

9. A Chipewyan family revived their culture with a moose hide project that connected 3 generations. Edith Giroux-Mack travelled from Fort Resolution in N.W.T. to relearn the Chipewyan skill after her son, Lucas hunted a moose and saved the hide for tanning. He wanted to learn this skill from his mother so he could pass it down to his future daughter. Edith’s nieces, nephews, and grandchildren also took part in this event. https://www.aptnnews.ca/national-news/chipewyan-family-moose-hide-culture/

10. Nicole Luke may be the first Inuk to complete an architecture program in what is currently Canada. She will be graduating with her Masters in architecture from the University of Manitoba this year. Nicole says she knows of Inuk students perusing an education in architecture but has never met an Inuk architect. During her interview with APTN she reminded folks that the Inuit were the original architects in their communities. https://www.aptnnews.ca/national-news/inuk-architectural-grad-getting-set-to-redesign-the-world/

11. Tracie Léost, a Métis woman from St. Laurent Manitoba and track and field athlete, was one of five women around the world featured in the new Olympic Channel series By Her Rules. The series aims to show women from around the world making a positive impact on their communities through sport. In 2015, Tracie ran a 115km run over four days to raise awareness for MMIWG. She now coaches youth hockey and runs a non-profit called Waanishka (which means get up and rise in Michif) that aims to support and empower Indigenous youth looking to reclaim their heritage, share their stories, and empower each other to make positive change. https://www.aptnnews.ca/national-news/by-her-rules-manitoba-olympic-channel/

12. Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation, led by Chief Allan Adam, began construction on three solar farms in south of Calgary. This project is a joint venture between Mikisew Cree First Nation, Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation and the Fort Chipewyan Métis Association. This is a huge win for environmental sustainability as before the solar farm, Fort Chipewyan residents received their energy from a diesel power station which burns 3 billion litres of fuel annually. https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/edmonton/indigenous-owned-solar-farm-fort-chip-1.5807721

13. Arctic Corridors and Northern Voices was recognized with a Governor General’s Innovation Award. The organization combines Inuit knowledge with western science to map shipping routes to the Arctic. Inuit community members, Jackie Dawson, Natalie Carter, Natasha Simonee, and Shirley Tagalik received the award. Dawson commented, “My only regret is there can only be three people named in addition to me … we wanted to name 100, there were so many people involved.” https://nunatsiaq.com/stories/article/team-researching-northern-shipping-routes-gets-governor-general-award/

14. Albert Dumont, an Algonquin elder from Kitigan Zibi Anishenabeg First Nation, was made Ottawa’s newest English-language Poet Laureate. Dumont holds this position for two years and says he intends to use his time to bring attention to and end systemic racism, to focus on empathy and compassion, and to be a mentor to young people. https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/ottawa/english-poet-laureate-albert-dumont-1.5996990

15. Dene governments in N.W.T. launch new measures to protect the Bathurst barren-ground caribou herd for future generations. Among these programs includes Tłı̨chǫ Nation’s Ekwo (caribou) harvest monitoring program and Yellowknife’s Dene First Nation caribou harvesting monitoring program. https://www.aptnnews.ca/national-news/dene-governments-in-n-w-t-launch-ice-road-caribou-harvest-monitoring/

16. The Malvern Aboriginal Child and Family Centre opened in Toronto and serves as a community gathering place. The centre provides youth supports, food security programming, cultural events and more. https://www.aptnnews.ca/national-news/new-cultural-facility-in-toronto-will-help-people-find-their-identity-again-says-supervisor/

17. A new climate action fellowship, the Yukon First Nations Climate Action Fellowship was created to empower Yukon youth to address climate change through traditional knowledge, teachings, and practices. https://www.aptnnews.ca/national-news/new-fellowship-advocates-for-first-nation-youth-in-yukon-to-fight-climate-crisis/

18. The Yukon government agreed to establish a separate school board for First Nations which will allow Indigenous cultural values to be established in the curriculum for First Nations students. https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/north/yukon-first-nations-school-board-framework-agreement-1.6052026

19. Our Firelighter, Aaron Jones was awarded the Community Citizens Clean North Award for Green Leadership for his involvement in the Garden River Waawaaskwane (flower) Project. Aaron is a community member from Garden River First Nation. https://twitter.com/thefirelightgp/status/1386769845182730242

20. Our Firelighter, Sandra Gosling was selected as one of the Alberta Council for Global Cooperation’s Top 30 Under 30 for her work with Indigenous communities across what is currently Canada. Sandra is a Métis-European community-based researcher focused on reducing inequalities in Indigenous communities. Her goal is for Canada to reconcile its relationship with Indigenous Nations by investing in communities and ensuring communities have equitable financial and political resources. https://top30under30.acgc.ca/project/sandra-gosling/

And finally…

21. Over 82% of Indigenous peoples ages 12+ have had their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, and 43% have received 2 doses. https://www.canada.ca/en/indigenous-services-canada/news/2021/06/government-of-canada-covid-19-update-for-indigenous-peoples-and-communities-week-of-june-14.html

Let’s continue to celebrate Indigenous successes and remind the world that Indigenous Peoples Day everyday.