National Aboriginal Day

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June 21, 2010 by Lain

Through the noise of traffic, sirens, and downtown lunch hour bustle, the sound of drums pounding, loud chanting and singing seemed completely out of place. In a park, on the corner of one of Edmonton’s busiest intersections, passers by were treated today to the sights and sounds of RBC’s Royal Eagle National Aboriginal Day Celebration. Complete with Drummers, Dancers in full costume, and dignitaries and Elders of Canada’s First Nation, Metis and Inuit people. The festivities began with a prayer to the Great Creator in both Cree and English. Next, “Oh Canada”, sung in Cree. And then came the parade of dancers in full costume. A real treat for the urbanites who rarely, if ever, see this side of Canadian culture.

June 21st was declared National Aboriginal Day by the Government of Canada in 1996. A day of celebration of the cultures of First Nation, Metis and Inuit people, whose contribution to Canadian culture have helped make this country unique.

The history of indigenous people and their culture stretches back as early as 10,000 b.c., as evidence of Aboriginal civilization in Canada details movement of the earliest Inuit ancestors from Siberia to Alaska, then eastward into Canada and Greenland. As early as 1530, the history of European contact began when whalers entered the eastern shores of the Canadian Arctic.

It is a common myth that Canada pursued a policy of open aggression against First Nations People. In fact, First Nations were often considered strategic military and political allies throughout Canadian history, including the War of 1812. Good relations with First Nations of the Pacific Coast may even have prevented colonization by the Spaniards and Russians.

It wasn’t until much more recently that the Canadian “Indian Act” of 1867 was used to outlaw traditional governing systems, limit the aboriginal land base, annihilate the aboriginal economic base by prohibiting “Indians” from selling land or even hiring a lawyer (yes!), prevent aboriginal people from voting, and forcibly removing aboriginal children from their homes and families to attend distant boarding schools, effectively destroying the fabric of their culture and tradition.

By participating in a variety of events planned for this day across the country, Canadians can develop a greater understanding of how the rich, diverse Aboriginal heritage is an important part of Canada’s past, present and future.

As Pagans, we owe a lot to North American Aboriginal culture as an integral part of how we view spirituality. If you’ve ever smudged, sat in a sweat-lodge, beat a drum, or called to the four directions, you’ve probably borrowed from our Native brothers and sisters.

source; Department of Indian Affairs

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