Sunday, June 21, 2020 is summer solstice where we all welcome the longest day of the year and the official beginning of summer. It is also National Indigenous Peoples Day where we can recognize and celebrate the rich and diverse heritage, culture and contributions of First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples. Pictured above are the Stó:lō welcome figures at the Chilliwack Visitors Centre. The two figures, one man and one woman, stand with their hands raised in a gesture of welcome. There are many First Nations welcome centres and museums in our country that I have visited and a long list of ones that I have yet to see. This year I planned on joining one of the many events that First Nations hold to welcome people to their land and to share, learn and celebrate, but we all have to take a lower key approach because of the current pandemic restrictions in place.
It is with great gratitude that I get to spend the day savouring the lands of the Secwépemc Nation in the Shuswap area where I lease a recreational property. I will explore some of the local parks with their permanent educational displays along walking trails and take the time to read them. The other thing I will be doing is starting a new book to educate myself on a history that I probably have more misconceptions about than I realize. I found this great reading list #IndigenousReads www.rcaanc-cirnac.gc.ca/eng/1496255894592/1557840487211. My book club has read several of the books and I did find a few more that I want to read from this list so it is worth checking out. My commitment is to start a book not on the list which is Bob Joseph’s 21 Things You May Not Know About the Indian Act: Helping Canadians Make Reconciliation with Indigenous People a Reality. For one I want to move beyond the important acknowledgements that I work and live on the lands of indigenous families, and take a positive step to learning more. Ideally I would get to join in on an in person celebration with one of the First Nations communities but in a time of pandemic we have to find a different way to connect and learn.
Diversity, inclusion, racial relations, #blacklivesmatter, should all be on the top of mind for all of us now and we should be thinking about what we can do differently. Take some time on this important day to learn more and try to connect in a different way with an important community. The ongoing race conversation and effort from all of us must have indigenous reconciliation high on the list.