As the first day of summer arrives on today, June 21, the day is also a day Canadians mark National Indigenous Peoples Day.
In cooperation with Indigenous organizations, the Government of Canada chose June 21, the summer solstice, for National Aboriginal Day. However, it is now known as National Indigenous Peoples Day.
For generations, many Indigenous peoples and communities have celebrated their culture and heritage on or near this day due to the significance of the summer solstice as the longest day of the year.
To mark the occasion the Minister of National Defence Harjit S. Sajjan, and the Minister of Veterans Affairs Lawrence MacAulay issued the following statement, “Today, we mark National Indigenous Peoples Day—a day to recognize and honour the First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples of Canada.
“The Department of National Defence and Veterans Affairs Canada are united in recognizing and remembering the courage of the thousands of Indigenous women and men who served during the First and Second World Wars, the Korean War, the Gulf War, the Afghanistan conflict, and numerous other military operations.
“Indigenous peoples have a long and proud history being a part of Canada’s military. From their role in the War of 1812 as our valued allies, to the more than 4,000 Indigenous women and men who served during the First World War, and the many Indigenous members who served in Afghanistan. Their contributions, both past and present, have been instrumental to keeping our country safe and preserving our rights and freedoms.
“Today, more than 2,700 Indigenous people currently serve with the same passion and pride as those who came before them. Employed in trades across our Canadian Armed Forces, they serve as exceptional leaders from coast to coast to coast.
“The unique heritage and diverse cultures of Indigenous peoples are a source of strength and inspiration for us all. On this day, we celebrate the contributions of First Nations, Inuit, and Métis peoples to Canada past, present and future, and invite all Canadians to join us in thanking them for their tremendous service to Canada.”
National Indigenous Peoples Day is a day for all Canadians to recognize and celebrate the unique heritage, diverse cultures, and outstanding contributions of First Nations, Inuit, and Métis peoples.
The Canadian Constitution recognizes these three groups as Aboriginal peoples, also known as Indigenous peoples. Although these groups share many similarities, they each have their own distinct heritage, language, cultural practices, and spiritual beliefs.