The longest day of the year. The first day of summer. The 21st of June. National Aboriginal Day.
I have a problem with National Aboriginal Day. I can never remember when it is. Unlike Christmas (Jesus’ birthday) or Hallowe’en (Satan’s day), I would like to remember. Then I could go to my local and bum drinks all night long.
In 1982 the National Indian Brotherhood or NIB called for the creation of a National Aboriginal Solidarity Day. A lucky 13 years later the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples recommends the designation of a National First Peoples Day along with hundreds of other recommendations sitting on some dusty shelf in a top-secret government warehouse.
Within weeks, though, Elijah Harper, Chairman of The Sacred Assembly, a national conference of Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people, pulls out his Eagle feather and demands a national holiday to celebrate Indian… Oops… Aboriginal contributions to Canadian society. The following year, 1996, Governor General Romeo Leblanc declares June as National Aboriginal Day. Woohoo! Celebrations and take place coast to coast. I miss them completely.
There you have it. It took 14 years of struggle and toil for Indians to get their day. What is this?! African Canadians, that would be Canadians from Africa, get a whole month and Whitey gets a whole year! Wait a minute… five centuries and counting! Why don’t they just go ahead and make it National Aboriginal Minute? I’m burning my status card and beaver-skin bra. Oops, wrong gender but you get the idea.
And let’s not forget the United Nations Decade of Indigenous Peoples. The first decade came and went with nothing happening so the U.N. had to extend it for another decade.
Don’t get me started on The Apology or the apology after the Apology. Everyone wanted to get into the act. White guilt really came out of the closet that day.
We can all be thankful that a new era is dawning and perhaps next year I’ll remember I have a day all of my own or someone will remind me.
For those of you who did remember, Happy Aboriginal Day!