National Indigenous Peoples Day is an important occasion in Canada that recognizes and celebrates the rich cultural heritage, contributions, and resilience of Indigenous peoples. This day provides an opportunity to learn, appreciate, and honour the diverse Indigenous cultures that have shaped the nation.
What is National Indigenous Peoples Day and how did it start?
National Indigenous Peoples Day, formerly known as National Aboriginal Day, is celebrated annually on June 21st in Canada. It is a day to acknowledge and commemorate the diverse cultures, traditions, languages, and histories of the First Nations, Inuit, and Métis peoples.
The origins of National Indigenous Peoples Day can be traced back to June 21, 1982, when the National Indian Brotherhood (now known as the Assembly of First Nations) called for the establishment of a National Aboriginal Solidarity Day. The proposal gained widespread support and was subsequently endorsed by various Indigenous organizations across Canada. In 1996, the Governor General of Canada declared June 21st as National Aboriginal Day, providing an official recognition of the cultural richness and significance of Indigenous peoples. In 2017, the name was changed to National Indigenous Peoples Day to reflect the inclusive nature of the celebration.
How can we honour our 2-Spirit community members on this day?
Within Indigenous communities, the term “2-Spirit” encompasses diverse gender identities, sexual orientations, and spiritual roles. The 2-Spirit community holds a unique and valued place within Indigenous cultures and traditions.
Here are some meaningful ways we can honour and support our 2-Spirit community members on National Indigenous Peoples Day:
- Education and Awareness: Take the time to educate yourself about 2-Spirit history, culture, and contributions to Indigenous communities. Read books, watch documentaries, or attend virtual events that focus on the experiences and perspectives of 2-Spirit individuals. If you are an educator, consider checking out our lesson plan on the Adoption of the 2-Spirit Term.
- Amplify 2-Spirit Voices: Use your platform, whether it’s through social media or in your community, to amplify the voices and stories of 2-Spirit individuals. Share their achievements, challenges, and experiences, and highlight their contributions to art, literature, activism, and other fields. Centering their voices helps combat marginalization and promotes inclusivity.
- Support 2-Spirit Organizations: Donate or volunteer with organizations that specifically support the 2-Spirit community. These organizations work tirelessly to provide resources, advocacy, and support services for 2-Spirit individuals. By contributing your time or financial resources, you can help empower and uplift the 2-Spirit community.
- Attend and Participate in 2-Spirit Events: Look for 2-Spirit-centered events happening in your area or online. Attend workshops, ceremonies, or cultural gatherings that focus on 2-Spirit identity and the celebration of their unique contributions. By actively engaging with these events, you can show your support and solidarity.
- Respect and Recognition: Ensure that you approach conversations and interactions with 2-Spirit individuals with respect and cultural sensitivity. Use appropriate pronouns and honour their self-identified gender. Recognize and value their perspectives, experiences, and expertise.