June 1st kicks off National Indigenous History Month, an opportunity for people to learn and embrace Indigenous culture, ceremonies, traditions and history.
Throughout the month of June, as Canadians take part in different ways of learning stories of Canada’s first peoples, two Saskatchewan organizations cite the importance of people knowing Indigenous history.
The treaty educator for the Office of the Treaty Commissioner (OTC) said it’s important to learn the true history of who Indigenous Peoples were and are today.
“I think it’s important that as we look back on Indigenous Peoples’ history (to) learn about how they lived (and) about the number of treaties because those are the building blocks of what is now called Canada,” said Elaine Sutherland. “I believe that National Indigenous History Month is so important because there’s so much history that needs to be learned about.“
Sutherland said non-Indigenous people need to learn about Indigenous history not only for the month of June but continuously.
“Whenever I’m speaking out there to people, I always say this is the start of your learning journey,” said Sutherland. “However way, shape or form you decide to start learning, don’t let this be a one-and-done. Don’t let this be ‘let’s learn about it for the month of June and say, ‘OK, I checkmark that box.’ Keep learning, keep asking questions, keep digging, because there’s so much out there.”
Reconciliation Regina’s executive director said they continuously have conversations to include non-Indigenous peoples with a speakers’ workshop series called Decolonize YQR, in partnership with the Regina Public Library, where they feature different guest speakers each month.
“We really like it when people are, you know, have that open heart and they want to learn,” said Kristin Francis. “They want to learn. And we’re happy to help them in that journey.”
Reconciliation Regina also partners with Equity Diversity Inclusion Network to organize a National Indigenous People’s Day celebration in downtown Regina.
“Attendees can expect a diverse range of performances, including powwow performances, hoop dancing, Metis jigging and fiddle playing, Inuit throat singing (and) a performance by spoken word artist Zoe Roy, who’s also going to be emceeing the event,” said Francis. “The event will also feature an Indigenous craft fair and as well as a kid’s zone, where it’ll include face painting, First Nations cultural teachings, a Metis jigging workshop, Cree syllabics, Inuit games, beaded keychains, and a Red River cart demonstration … so, a lot of events that really help to celebrate Indigenous culture and also sharing the history.”