June is National Indigenous History Month (NIHM), which began in 2009. It is meant to highlight Indigenous history, people, cultures as well as contributions.
June 21, summer solstice is designated as National Indigenous Peoples Day, and YMM Magazine will proudly launch our special Indigenous issue on that day.
We caught up with a few people to chat more about the importance of NIHM.
Julia McDougall, a Cree Elder from Fort Chipewyan, who now calls Fort McMurray home notes, “National Indigenous History Month is a time for every Canadian, which includes the non- Indigenous, recent immigrants and Indigenous peoples alike to learn the history, diverse cultures, contributions, and the many assimilation policies put in place for the First Peoples. The history of Indigenous Peoples was relatively unknown to many Canadians until recently. First Nations, Inuit, and Métis Peoples have their own unique history to share. Indigenous History Month is an ongoing process to stop the loss and give growth to the distinct histories.”
Local Indigenous artist, Amy Keller-Rempp, who has a Tyendinaga Mohawk background comments the month is a “great opportunity for all of us to commemorate some of our controversial history in Canada. Between the residential schools, the 60s scoop, and other sad episodes of our Canadian history, there is a lot more work to do to help the public understand what truth and reconciliation really means.”
Amy has completed a special painting called, “Carried with Love,” in memory of the unmarked graves of 215 children found in a Kamloops residential school last May: https://www.kellerremppart.com/carried-with-love. A national fundraiser, Amy plans to share more details about the painting in the near future.
“As an Indigenous artist, Carried with Love has given me the opportunity to create a bridge for those who have suffered or lost someone in the residential school system, and the public who is interested in learning more about it,” noted Amy, who won the Indigenous Arts award last year from Arts Council Wood Buffalo.
Speaking to YMM Magazine, Dennis Fraser, Director, Indigenous and Rural Relations, Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo comments “while we should be mindful of the significance of Indigenous history year-round, National Indigenous History Month is a time to shine a brighter light on the contributions and strengths of First Nations, Inuit, and Métis peoples. We are all Treaty people, so the month is also an opportunity for non-Indigenous Canadians across Turtle Island to learn about whose land they are on and to recognize the resilience of Indigenous communities.”
As per an RMWB news release, “community members can find out more, share ideas, and tell (the RMWB) how they are honouring National Indigenous History Month at https://participate.rmwb.ca/NIHM.”
About the author
Kiran is a national award-winning communications specialist, freelance journalist, and social media consultant. She loves telling community stories, and is a strong advocate for inclusion, diversity, women’s rights, and multiculturalism. Got story ideas? Contact her via Twitter: @KiranMK0822.