What’s the deal with national Aboriginal Day? When did it start and what’s it all about?

National Aboriginal Day was first proclaimed by the Canadian government on July 13, 1996. The official proclamation announced that, “the Constitution of Canada recognizes the existing rights of the Aboriginal people of Canada,” and that,

“aboriginal peoples of Canada include the Indian, Inuit and Métis peoples of Canada.” The proclamation also held that it would be appropriate to set aside a day to celebrate the valuable contributions to Canadian society made by Aboriginal peoples. A day that would recognize the varying cultures of Aboriginal people in Canada. The day they chose was June 21, the summer solstice.

Is this a real holiday, or is it yet another empty gesture on the part of the Canadian government? The answer to this one is really up to Native communities. Whether the government’s motives were sincere or not will never be truly revealed, but the day has been set aside nonetheless and it is up to Native people to do with it as they see fit. Events have been organized from one end of the country to the other, including festivities to be held in Old Montreal, and Quebec City. It’s an opportunity to fly your colours, grab a little attention, and take pride in a rich heritage that is finally being recognized by the very cultures that long sought to suppress it. What better day could there be for a holiday than the longest day of the year?

Happy Aboriginal Day!