Settlement agencies, often the first point of contact for newcomers to Canada, have a responsibility to communicate the history of our country and Aboriginal Awareness Month offers an opportunity to kick-start support for efforts aimed at ending cycles of systemic stereotyping and discrimination faced by Aboriginal people through culturally appropriate education on indigenous issues, along with meaningful partnerships that seek the creation of alliances to build awareness within the immigrant community and beyond.
Declared in 2009, National Aboriginal Awareness Month is a time to acknowledge the role Indigenous peoples played in the development of Canada, to honour Indigenous heritage and to celebrate Indigenous cultures. It is also an opportunity to reflect on the strength of present day First Nation, Métis and Inuit communities, and their hopes for the future.
Events invite us to learn more about Indigenous history, perspectives and culture, and help us build stronger relationships rooted in mutual respect and understanding. It means that during June, Aboriginal history is brought to the forefront in Canada. It is a month for Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people to reflect upon the past and look towards the future. For Canada, this is the foundation for lasting reconciliation.
A timeline of how this important month in Canada's yearly calendar came into being can be seen below as well as a schedule of events in Calgary that will run from June 10th to June 24th.
- 1982: The National Indian Brotherhood (now known as the Assembly of First Nations) called for a creation of a National Aboriginal Solidarity Day on June 21.
- 1990: The Quebec legislature recognized June 21 as a day to celebrate Aboriginal culture
- 1995: The Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples recommended a day be designated as National First Peoples Day. The Sacred Assembly, a national conference of Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people chaired by the late Elijah Harper, called for a national holiday to celebrate the contributions of Aboriginal Peoples in Canada.
- 1996: Governor General Romeo LeBlanc proclaimed that National Aboriginal Day would be celebrated June 21 each year. "On June 21st, this year and every year, Canada will honour the native peoples who first brought humanity to this great land," said Leblanc. "And may the first peoples of our past always be full and proud partners in our future."
- 2008: Prime Minister Harper offered the full apology on behalf of Canadians for the Indian Residential Schools system.
- 2009: By unanimous motion in Canada’s House of Commons, the month of June was declared National Aboriginal History Month.