Indigenous Days of Observance

National Indigenous Languages Day (March 31) - National Indigenous Languages Day is an opportunity to acknowledge and honour the strength and resiliency of the Indigenous language and culture. It is a day to honour Indigenous language and its connection to the past, present, and future; as well as, the continuing importance it has to our community, government, and relationship to the land.

There are more than 70 Indigenous languages across Canada. Languages are deeply personal. They connect individuals and families over many generations and are integral to self-identity and well-being. Languages carry stories and help protect the rich oral history passed down from elders to youth. We all have a part to play in protecting and supporting Indigenous languages through Indigenous language programs, traditional teachings, and Immersion programs.

 

National Day of Awareness of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (MMIWG) (May 5) - Also knows as "Red Dress Day," it began in response to the alarming number of missing or murdered Indigenous women. A 2014 RCMP report titled, "Missing and Murdered Aboriginal Women: A National Operational Overview," reveals that more than 1,000 Indigenous women were murdered in a span of 30 years in Canada (1980-2012). At the time of the report, Indigenous women and girls represented 16% of all female homicides in the country, but only 4% of the total population. The day also includes Trans and Two-Spirit Indigenous individuals who have gone missing or have been murdered. 

You can wear red on May 5 to raise awareness about MMIWG in Canada. To learn more visit https://www.mmiwg-ffada.ca/final-report/ (National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls).

 

National Indigenous History Month (June 3) - June is National Indigenous History Month. The purpose is to recognize the history, heritage, and diversity of First Nations, Inuit, and Metis peoples in Canada.

To learn more, visit https://www.rcaanc-cirnac.gc.ca/eng/1621447127773/1621447157184 (National Indigenous History Month)

 

National Indigenous Peoples Day (June 21) - On June 21, 2022 we will celebrate the 26th anniversary of National Indigenous Peoples Day by recognizing the heritage, diverse cultures, and contributions of First Nations, Inuit, and Metis peoples of Canada.

With the devastating discovery of unmarked and mass grave sites near former Residential Schools, it is now more apparent than ever that in order for Truth and Reconciliation to truly occur, we must all work together towards a unified and inclusive country.

To celebrate National Indigenous Peoples Day, consider some of the following actions:
• Learn about the history of the land you live on. Why is the land acknowledgment important? What cultural traditions, languages, and treaties have shaped Timmins and the region?
• Learn about residential schools and the impacts of colonization and cultural genocide in Canada. The Legacy of Hope Foundation is a great place to start
• Pick up a book. A number of the titles on Mayor George Pirie’s recommended reading list are written by Indigenous authors. https://www.facebook.com/CityOfTimmins/posts/4008521082501935
• Support local Indigenous organizations with your resources, such as your time, monetary donation, or even your voice as an ally.

 

National Day for Truth and Reconciliation (September 30) - 2021 marked the first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, traditionally Orange Shirt Day. It is an opportunity to create meaningful and honest discussion about the tragic impact Residential Schools have made on the Indigenous community and on Canada.

Orange Shirt Day began in 2013 as part of the Commemoration Project and Reunion events that took place as a legacy of the St. Joseph Mission (SJM) Residential School (1891-1981) in Williams Lake, British Columbia. Former student Phyllis (Jack) Webstad recounted her story of her first day of residential school at just six-years old when her brand new orange shirt was taken from her.

The date of September 30 is significant because it is the time of year when children were taken from their homes to residential schools and because it sets the stage for conversations and learning for the coming school year. The hope is that Orange Shirt Day will allow First Nations, local government, schools and communities to come together to promote reconciliation and inclusivity.
You can participate by wearing an orange shirt on September 30 and sharing the story of the day’s significance. When purchasing your orange shirt, consider buying from a local Indigenous store or organization like Timmins Native Friendship Centre.

 

Sisters in Spirit Vigil (October 4) - On October 4, we honour the lives of missing and murdered Indigenous women, girls, and gender diverse people. It is an opportunity to support grieving families and help encourage healing.

You can participate by:
- Lighting a candle and placing in a window of your home
- Changing your social media profile picture to a commemorative frame
- Printing out a commemorative heart from the Native Women’s Association of Canada and filling out with a message of remembrance and intention. Pictures of your heart can be shared on social media with the #SISVigils.

 

Treaties Recognition Week (November 1-7) - The first week of November is Treaties Recognition Week. The purpose is to help explain about treaty rights and relationships between the Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities in Ontario.

Treaties are legal agreements that describe the rights, responsibilities and relationships between First Nations and Canada’s federal and provincial governments.

Timmins is part of Treaty 9, the James Bay Treaty. It was originally signed in 1905 and 1906 by representatives of Cree and Ojibway peoples and the Crown. It is the northernmost treaty in Ontario. There are currently 14 First Nation communities within Treaty 9.

We now have come to understand that the promises and partnerships set about by the original treaties resulted in the exploitation of Indigenous peoples and cultivated as system of assimilation. Today, Canada is working to rebuild the relationships between treaty partners and Indigenous peoples.

 

International Inuit Day (November 7) - November 7 is International Inuit Day, a day to celebrate and acknowledge Inuit culture and contributions. It is also a time to unite Inuit voices across the globe.

International Inuit Day was established in 2006 by the Inuit Circumpolar Council (ICC), which represents current Inuit populations in Alaska, Canada, Greenland and Russia. The date is significant as the birth date of Eben Hopson Sr., an Inuit leader and founder of the Inuit Circumpolar Conference.

Inuit people of Canada are presented by Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, a national representational organization that protects and advances the rights and interests of Inuit in Canada.

 

Indigenous Veterans Day (November 8) - Indigenous Veterans Day honours the important contributions made by First Nations, Inuit and Metis Veterans in service to Canada.

Indigenous peoples have played a significant role in defending our country and values, in some cases before Canada was even a country. Indigenous leaders like Tecumseh, a Shawnee Chief, fought alongside the British against the United States in the war of 1812. Over 3,000 First Nation members and unknown numbers of Inuit and Metis people served in the Second World War representing Canada. Indigenous peoples continue to serve as members of our military forces.

Indigenous Veterans Day is our opportunity to thank the Indigenous and First Nation communities for their sacrifice to our country to protect Canadian peace and security, often while facing discrimination and exclusion at home.

 

Louis Riel Day (November 16) - Louis Riel Day is held on November 16 on the anniversary of Riel’s execution in 1885. That same year, Riel led the Metis people in the Northwest Resistance, a stand against the Government of Canada to protect Metis rights and way-of-life.

Ultimately, Riel was captured by the Canadian government and convicted of treason. As a result, Metis people across the country were labeled as traitors and began to hide their Metis culture and heritage.

Louis Riel Day celebrates the Metis culture and recognizes the many contributions of the Metis to Canada.