Hundreds gather to celebrate National Indigenous Peoples Day

Eight people posing for a photo at a National Indigenous Peoples day event. CREDIT: MAURICIO PRADO
Attendees gathered to dance, sing, learn and honour the history and achievements of First Nations, Inuit, and Métis people.

On June 21, Wortley Village Green was packed with people celebrating National Indigenous Peoples Day. Attendees gathered to dance, sing, learn and honour the history and achievements of First Nations, Inuit, and Métis people.

“When you come out and experience this, you know you are part of something big. That is when you truly understand the power of coming together as a community to celebrate and remember our past,” London Mayor Josh Morgan said.

Morgan said this event is vital to London’s culture and will help history transition from generation to generation. He said that when kids go with their families, they see, learn and understand the importance of history.

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Fiona Atkinson, an attendee from Brighton, England, said it was a magical experience.

“To see many generations coming together for history is something our ancestors would be proud of. I do not regret the mistakes and struggles we humans had made because that is how history was supposed to be written,” Atkinson said.

Member of the board of directors of N’amerind Friendship Centre Brian Hill said this event has evolved over the years.

“It all started as National Solidarity Day. It was a day in which we could bring our ways out into the public view to people to know,” Hill said. “Now it is more like a celebration to bond and unite people through our ways.”

Hill stated they were banned from doing this event for years because gathering to honour their history was against the law.

“Our ways were seen as backwards, wrong, double worshipping and excluding,” Hill said. “That is wrong and dangerous because that raised a lot of misconceptions and fear in people.”

He said that the purpose of this event is to rebuild bridges and open doors for everybody to come together as human beings, not just as indigenous and non-indigenous.

“The establishment of this day allowed us to bring our ceremonial items, songs and dances to show the people that it is not about excluding but to including,” Hill said. “This is a time in which we express our humanness, regardless of our titles, positions, beliefs or races.”

Hill said that everyone needs to understand their origins before moving forward.

“This day is to remember that we carry stories from our families and ancestors but must also understand the bad parts of it like the turmoil, the trauma, the hurt, the anger, the fear, and the frustration,” Hill said.

He stated that the world would be more grateful, kinder and gentler if people understood everything the ancestors had to endure. “This event helps people understand that they are not alone and that they are not and would never be the only ones with struggles,” Hill said. “If our ancestors made history battling their struggles at that time, so do everyone in this event.”