Celebrating & Acknowledging the Purpose for National Indigenous History Month (June)
By: Kacy B., Milton Youth Action Team, Communications Crew
July 24, 2020
June is National Indigenous History month! June has come to end it is important to understand why we celebrate the acknowledgment of Canada’s Indigenous history. A unanimous motion in the House of Commons in 2009 declared June to be National
Indigenous History Month to acknowledge the countless contributions made by the First
Nations, Inuit and Métis communities who have shaped and developed the country and land we live on. Canadians are also encouraged to celebrate National Indigenous Peoples Day on June 21st. All Canadians must continue to educate themselves on the topic of Indigenous history, culture, sacrifice, and strength outside of the typical school curriculum.
Here are several significant Indigenous historical events that have taken place in Canada:
Royal Proclamation of 1763 October 7, 1763- King George III issues a foundational document discussing the relationship between First Nations people and the Crown – establishing new rules and protocols for First Nations people. The former king issued this document because it demonstrated British authority and created a new structure at a time when encroachment of the First Nations land would lead to conflict. This marks the beginning of a long and complicated relationship between the Indigenous communities and the government with the Royal Proclamation of 1763 dating over 250 years back. The Constitution Act 1982 references the Royal Proclamation in section 25.
Indigenous contributions to the War of 1812
During the War of 1812, First Nations warriors and Métis fighters performed vital roles in the defense of British territories in opposition to invading American forces. Thousands of First Nations and Métis people fought alongside British troops and Canadian settler militias all through the conflict.
Residential schools were government-sponsored religion schools designed to assimilate Indigenous children into Euro-Canadian culture from 1831 to 1996. Although a incredibly dark mark in Canada’s history, we must bear witness to our country’s past for the process of Truth and Reconciliation to begin. It wasn’t long ago since the last residential school closed (1996). The legacy of abuse, assimilation and colonialism these schools imposed on Indigenous children continues to leave a lasting negative affect on many, including survivors and their families (known as intergenerational trauma).
Photo Credit William James Topley
Indigenous contributions during the First World War
Thousands of status and non-status First Nations, Inuit, and Métis people voluntarily enlist into the Canadian militia, volunteer as nurses, and fight at the Homefront. During the First World War it was no different. Without their contributions, we would likely have not seen the same result at the end of the war. Several Indigenous soldiers were decorated for bravery in action, including Francis Pegahmagabow, John Shiwak, and Henry Norwest.
Photo Credit Archive and Library Canada
A short blog like this could not possibly cover the breadth and depth of Indigenous history, so
below I have linked several Indigenous resources you can check out to expand your knowledge!
Truth and Reconciliation Commission