Lheidli T’enneh leader calls for statistics on June 21

“We should celebrate our land and our culture and celebrate the people who were here first”

Chief Lheildi T’enneh Dolleen Logan is calling for National Indigenous Peoples Day on June 21 to be made a national holiday.

National Aboriginal Day (now National Aboriginal Peoples Day) was announced in 1996 by Roméo LeBlanc, then Governor General of Canada, by proclaiming June 21 of each year as National Aboriginal Day.

It was created as a day for all Canadians to recognize and celebrate the unique heritage, diverse cultures and exceptional contributions of First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples.

However, this is only a provincial holiday in the Northwest Territories and the Yukon, and not a federal holiday similar to Canada Day.

“Canada is only about 154 years old. First Nations have been around for nine thousand years and we should celebrate our land and our culture and celebrate the people who were here first, ”said Chief Logan.

“It’s not a holiday so we have kids in school who can’t take time off and we have native workers and businesses that can’t take time off because it’s not a day off. public holiday. If they could come and join and share our culture with non-native people, it would familiarize people and re-familiarize themselves with the culture.

A bill creating a separate holiday on September 30, known as Orange Shirt Day, received Royal Assent on June 3 after being passed unanimously in the Senate.

Bill C-5 creates a statutory holiday for employees of the federal government and federally regulated workplaces to commemorate the tragic legacy of residential schools in Canada and would be known as an annual national day for truth and reconciliation .

The bill was rushed through Parliament after the remains of 215 Indigenous children were found in unmarked graves at a former residential school in Kamloops, British Columbia.

However, Chief Logan said National Indigenous Peoples Day on June 21 should always become a statutory holiday.

“The 21st is a day to celebrate and a day to mourn. It would be a healing journey for everyone, Orange Jersey Day is worth remembering, but so is the 21st, ”said Chief Logan.

“We all get together, talk, have fun and remember our culture and National Indigenous Day is for Indigenous people where we are proud to be who we are, where we come from and what will be our to come up. “

June 21 is normally a colorful and festive day, but this year it follows the discovery in Kamloops and several weeks of emotional events that have highlighted the need to reform the institutions and policies that perpetuate racism and systemic discrimination against indigenous peoples.

“It was heartbreaking, but I celebrated,” said Chief Logan, who attended Prince George’s celebrations at Lheidli T’enneh Memorial Park.

“Aboriginal Day was a day to celebrate being Aboriginal and being proud of who you are. I let the people of the park know that yes, we are a strong nation and a strong people, but if our ancestors weren’t strong for their culture, strong for everything, we wouldn’t be here.

As July 1 approaches and the public becomes more aware of Canada’s colonial history and the legacy of residential schools, Chief Logan said she believes people should always celebrate Canada Day .

“Because as First Nations, we are not here to destroy Canada,” said Chief Logan.

” We are here. We are very multicultural and Canada is very multicultural. Unfortunately, there is still a lot of racism, but Canada has been here for 154 years and First Nations have been here for nine thousand years and why not celebrate together.

Chief Logan said she encourages all Canadians to learn about local First Nations history.

“Everyone, everyone, take five minutes and research the history of your local First Nation. It is time to let everyone know how long First Nations have been here and what they have been through and to focus not only on residential schools, but on the whole history.

– with files from the Canadian Press