National Aboriginal Day

In 1996, the Governor General of Canada proclaimed June 21 of every year to be known as National Aboriginal Day. All Canadians are invited to recognize the diverse cultures and outstanding contributions of First Nations, Inuit and Metis.

Even before the Governor General of Canada proclaimed June 21 as National Aboriginal Day, there was a long-standing desire to set aside a national day to recognize and celebrate Aboriginal peoples and cultures.

Here is a brief history of the origins of National Aboriginal Day:

1982 National Indian Brotherhood (now the Assembly of First Nations) calls for the creation of June 21 as National Aboriginal Solidarity Day;

1990 Quebec legislature recognizes June 21 as a day to celebrate Aboriginal culture;

1995 Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples recommends the designation of a National First Peoples Day; The Sacred Assembly, a national conference of Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people chaired by Elijah Harper, calls for a national holiday to celebrate the contributions of Aboriginal peoples;

1996 June 13 - Former Governor General Romeo LeBlanc, declares June 21 as National Aboriginal Day after consultations with various Aboriginal groups;

June 21 - National Aboriginal Day is first celebrated with events from coast to coast to coast.

Today National Aboriginal Day is part of the annual nation-wide Celebrate Canada! festivities held from June 21 to July 1. They begin with National Aboriginal Day, are followed by St-Jean Baptiste Day and conclude with Canada Day.

June 21 was chosen because of the cultural significance of the summer solstice (first day of summer and longest day of the year) and because many Aboriginal groups mark this day as a time to celebrate their heritage. Setting aside a day for Aboriginal Peoples is part of the wider recognition of Aboriginal Peoples' important place within the fabric of Canada and their ongoing contributions as First Peoples. As Governor General Adrienne Clarkson said: "It is an opportunity for all of us to celebrate our respect and admiration for First Nations, for Inuit, for Metis - for the past, the present and the future."

National Aboriginal Day events are held in every region across the country. For a detailed list of activities, or to get involved in organizing festivities in your area, visit www.inac.gc.ca or contact an Aboriginal community or organization near you, or the local Indian and Northern Affairs Canada office

National Aboriginal Day was proclaimed in 1996 by former Governor General Romeo A. LeBlanc. The following is the text of the declaration to make National Aboriginal Day an official day of celebration, recognized by the crown:

National Aboriginal Day

A Proclamation

ELIZABETH THE SECOND, by the Grace of God of the United Kingdom, Canada and Her other Realms and Territories QUEEN, Head of the Commonwealth, Defender of the Faith.

TO ALL TO WHOM these Presents shall come or whom the same may in any way concern,

GREETING:

WHEREAS the Constitution of Canada recognizes the existing rights of the Aboriginal peoples of Canada;

WHEREAS in the Constitution of Canada "Aboriginal peoples of Canada" include the Indian, Inuit and Metis peoples of Canada;

WHEREAS the Aboriginal peoples of Canada have made and continue to make valuable contributions to Canadian society and it is considered appropriate that there be, in each year, a day to mark and celebrate these contributions and to recognize the different cultures of the Aboriginal peoples of Canada;

AND WHEREAS many Aboriginal peoples celebrate the summer solstice, which has an important symbolism within their cultures;

THEREFORE, His Excellency the Governor General in Council, on the recommendation of the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development, hereby directs that a proclamation do issue declaring June 21 of each year as "National Aboriginal Day".

OF ALL OF WHICH Our Loving Subjects and all others whom these Presents may concern are hereby required to take notice and to govern themselves accordingly.

IN TESTIMONY WHEREOF, We have caused these Our Letters to be made Patent and the Great Seal of Canada to be hereunto affixed.

WITNESS: Our Right Trusty and Well-beloved Romeo A. LeBlanc, a Member of Our Privy Council for Canada, Chancellor and Principal Companion of Our Order of Canada, Chancellor and Commander of Our Order of Military Merit, Governor General and Commander-in-Chief of Canada.

AT OUR GOVERNMENT HOUSE, in Our City of Ottawa, this thirteenth day of June in the year of Our Lord one thousand nine hundred and ninety-six and in the forty-fifth year of Our Reign.


Source: Indian and Northern Affairs

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