Mary Watson Bear Clan, Thessalon First Nation, residing in Whitby, Ontario
National Indigenous Peoples Day is a day of celebration recognizing the First Nations, Inuit and Metis people of Canada and reminds all Canadians that this day is where we can pause and learn something about what it means to be Indigenous. Why not pause and recognize the traditional land that you are on. Recognizing the traditional territories was included in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada Report.
In August of 2016, Gord Downie asked all Canadians to look at the state of Indigenous-settler relations in this country and to "Do something" to change them for the better.
Section 45 to 48 of the TRC Calls to Action supports the land acknowledgement that every Canadian today may hear during daily life. Public schools, universities, sports teams, and different levels of government are using this during the openings of events to fulfill the TRC Calls to Action.
Land acknowledgements are important because when you recognize the treaty land that you are on you are acknowledging the Indigenous People who lived on the land before treaties were created, and it acknowledges the descendants of Indigenous People, who continue to live in the area. At the basic level, it should include a recognition of territory and what Indigenous Nation that territory belongs to. Until recently, the history and current affairs of Indigenous People were not taught in schools, and as a result, most people do not have an understanding of who we are, or what our beliefs are. I believe that land acknowledgements are an important part of the reconciliation process, and can open the door for more profound conversations that need to happen between Indigenous People and the rest of society.
In the Durham Region, we reside on the traditional territory of the Mississaugas of Scugog Island First Nation, which is covered under the Williams Treaties. We are situated on the traditional territory of the Mississaugas, a branch of the greater Anishinaabeg Nation, which includes Algonquin, Ojibway, Odawa and Pottawatomi.
For more information, click here about events offered to join in celebrating National Indigenous Peoples Day.