June is National Indigenous History Month, a time to honour the history, heritage and diversity of Indigenous peoples in Canada, as well as recognize the strength and contributions of today’s Indigenous communities.
It’s also a time to recognize the many injustices Indigenous peoples have faced in the past and continue to face today, and take action. I want to acknowledge the recent tragic deaths of two Indigenous people, Chantel Moore and Rodney Levi, who were killed by police in New Brunswick in two different instances, as well as the violent arrest of Allan Adam, Chief of the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation in northern Alberta. These incidents, among others, are occurring at a time when protests against racism and police brutality continue around the world. These are tragic reminders that systemic racism is an issue everywhere.
I acknowledge that there is more work to be done at MSVU and beyond, and I am grateful for the many members of our University community who are engaged in efforts to foster a community of support. With the leadership of our Equity, Diversity, Inclusion and Accessibility Committee, L’nu Advisory Circle, Aboriginal Student Centre, Black Student Support Office, and Students of African Descent Advisory Committee, we will continue to ensure an equitable and inclusive University community.
MSVU is also committed to continuing the important work of reconciliation within our institution and beyond, and is fortunate to have an exceptional leader to help guide us – Patrick Small Legs-Nagge, Special Advisor to the President on Indigenous Affairs. Please see the below message from Patrick about National Indigenous History Month and National Indigenous Peoples Day.
Recognizing National Indigenous History Month and National Indigenous Peoples Day: A message from Patrick Small Legs-Nagge, Special Advisor to the President on Indigenous Affairs
We know racism exists in our society and we need to take concrete action to create true change. It is one thing to ‘want to do’ and another ‘to do’. It can be difficult to know the best actions to take. A first step is educating oneself and truly listening to the voices of the oppressed, who continue to speak to the many injustices in Canada. This is something you can do now, as we mark National Indigenous History Month.
In 2009, following the passing of a unanimous motion in the House of Commons, the month of June was declared National Indigenous History Month, while continuing to celebrate National Indigenous Peoples Day (since 1996) on June 21.
MSVU is committed to reconciliation, as it affects us all and it is imperative that we work together. The truth needs to be heard and acknowledged in order to advance long-term sustainable change. Within the new draft MSVU Strategic Plan, there is a theme on Truth and Reconciliation and it details how MSVU will advance reconciliation efforts that are important to First Nation, Inuit & Metis People.
During National Indigenous History Month and National Indigenous Peoples Day, we honour, acknowledge and celebrate the diversity of our First Nations, Inuit and Metis cultures across Canada. Locally we honour the Mi’kmaq who have called this territory home since time immemorial and we must continue to truly understand their unique needs as we work together towards reconciliation.
National Indigenous History Month and National Indigenous Peoples Day are a reminder for all of us to reflect on our ongoing roles and responsibilities in the path towards truth and reconciliation and how it intertwines with our own individual work.
While our ability to gather and celebrate this year is limited, we must find alternate ways to learn more about First Nation, Inuit & Metis communities across Canada. I have provided some brief readings and YouTube videos to help with the process of learning and understanding Indigenous History in Canada.
The following link is from the Government of Canada and will provide you with some Indigenous history within Canada. https://www.canada.ca/en/services/culture/history-heritage/indigenous-history.html