The Importance of National Indigenous History Month
By Nabeha H., Milton Youth Action Team, Communications Crew
August 10, 2020
Published in The Milton Canadian Champion on July 21, 2020
Photo Credit mcos.ca
Our country is quite often described as multicultural. With over 250 ethnic origins, Canada’s population has many cultural backgrounds, races, and heritages. Out of the 37 million people living here, over 1.6 million of them are Indigenous to this land. While Canada has made many strides towards acceptance and further equality over the past years, there is still much to be done. Mistakes from the past cannot be undone, but should rather be recognized and acknowledged.
Canadians celebrate Indigenous History Month in June. It is a time to learn of the struggles and sacrifices made by the Indigenous population of Canada. It is also an opportunity to inform ourselves and reflect upon the history of our country and the conduct towards those who lived on this land before us.
To this day, many are still completely oblivious to the existence of residential schools and their impact on Indigenous people even now. The last residential school was closed in 1996 after their system was forced upon over 150 000 indigenous children, yet some of our population is completely unfamiliar with the concept. It is imperative that we, as a country, admit to our previous errors and work to make sure they don’t ever occur again. This includes residential schools, inadequate schooling, housing and healthcare, the construction of unapproved pipelines.
For the past year, I have been volunteering with the Milton Youth Action Team, and we’re currently working with Indigenous staff at Our Kids Network to give the youth a space where they can be part of the Truth and Reconciliation journey. We are planning to create communication pieces, campaigns, and virtual activities, which will be focusing on bearing witness to the past, learning about the present, and working together towards a just and equitable future. We are also using our online presence to promote the voices of Indigenous people and organizations.
The purpose of this month is to spread awareness and no longer turn a blind eye towards the past of our country. While Canada is nowhere near perfect, it is still in our hopes that the future holds only progression towards peace and equality. Demands are being made for a change in our country every day. Our youth are starting to become informed of the injustices that so many see as a reality to this day, and they are fighting. We can all play a part, no matter how small it may be. Whether it is spreading awareness, taking the time and effort to become more knowledgeable about the lives and pasts of our indigenous population, listening to their stories, or using your voice to speak up, anything can help. We need to stand up for each other because there’s almost nothing we can’t do when we’re together.
Milton Youth Action Team, Halton Youth Initiative Member.