CALGARY -- Monday marked the 25th anniversary of National Indigenous People’s Day. This year it’s a day for celebration but also reflection as the country recognizes a shameful part of Canada’s history.

The national observance recognizes the heritage, diverse cultures and achievements of First Nations, Inuit and Metis people.

“To me this day represents that we’re still here and we’re still strong and our ways are coming back and our languages are coming back,” said Cheyyene Littlelight, a language teacher at Tsuut’ina First Nation,

Littlelight said the day is a celebration of songs, dances, artwork, beadwork and accomplishments.

 

Cheyyene, Littlelight, Indigenous, peoples

(Cheyyene Littlelight)

“This day is about empowerment that we are still here and we aren’t going anywhere. We are reclaiming our identity and our languages through dances and songs and ceremonies, practicing our traditional teachings with our students in the classroom and within our community,” said Jalisa Crowchild, language teacher at Tsuut’ina First Nation.

ESPECIALLY SIGNIFICANT

Indigenous leaders say this year is especially significant after last month’s discovery of the bodies of 215 children at the site of a former residential school in Kamloops.

The University of Calgary hosted a virtual edition of its campfire chats, where a panel of traditional knowledge keepers said this is an opportunity for meaningful discussion and how to make changes moving forward.

The Prime Minister released a statement Monday. 

Justin Trudeau said while the country is celebrating the vibrant and diverse culture, languages and traditions of First Nations, Inuit and Metis people, we must also acknowledge there is more work to do to advance truth and reconciliation.

This is also Aboriginal awareness week in Calgary and National Indigenous History Month.