National Indigenous Peoples Day: 23 reasons to celebrate

On National Indigenous Peoples Day, Air Canada flight AC185 made history.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 21/06/2019 (1372 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

On National Indigenous Peoples Day, Air Canada flight AC185 made history.

For the first time, an all-Indigenous crew of two pilots and nine flight attendants escorted passengers Friday on a Boeing 787 to Vancouver from Toronto. Upon arrival, they were welcomed with a traditional greeting ceremony by members of the Musqueam First Nation.

This is just one way Canadians celebrated the 23rd National Indigenous Peoples Day. Here are 23 Manitoba-centred reasons to celebrate it:

1. Friday marked the second National Indigenous Peoples Day, after previously being called National Aboriginal Day. The federal government has considered making it a holiday honouring Indigenous peoples. Manitoba already has one: Louis Riel Day.

2. Saturday marks another widely successful Indigenous Day Live event at The Forks. Since beginning 13 years ago in a small downtown plaza, the event is now a massive, day-long celebration across three cities (Winnipeg, Calgary and Whitehorse) and is broadcast nationally by APTN.

3. The University of Winnipeg was the site of Indigenous excellence this month, as three honorary degrees and three Canada Research Chairs were given to Indigenous women. Language advocates Annie Belanger and Ida Bear were given doctorates, alongside elder Ruth Christie, and Canada’s highest scholarly honours were given to artist Julie Nagam, health scholar Jamie Cidro, and historian Mary Jane McCallum.

4. After a teepee was burned earlier this month on the campus of Brandon University, dozens of community members gathered to build more. BU issued a statement, saying the fire “does not shake our commitment nor our confidence. It will only strengthen our efforts towards reconciliation.”

5. Camp Morningstar at Hollow Water First Nation, a resistance camp against a massive silica sand mining project, is going on it’s sixth month of occupation. These brave activists demonstrate how Indigenous life (and all life) begins and ends with health of the land.

6. The Tunngasugit Inuit Resource Centre in Winnipeg opened in May, quickly making the city a more comfortable place for Inuit arriving for medical treatment. The centre also features Inuit art and is already playing host to concerts and information sessions on Inuit culture.

7. In Frontier School Division, 250 Grade 7 and 8 students from Norway House just completed four days on the land, learning traditional language, culture, and traditional practices.

8. The ninth annual Seven Oaks School Division powwow is now the largest high school powwow in the province, featuring hundreds of grads and dancers and filling up facilities such as the Winnipeg Soccer Complex North.

9. CBC national radio show Unreserved, hosted by Rosanna Deerchild, received a 2019 Radio Television and Digital News Association Award for its work on the 2016 fatal shooting of Colten Boushie. Unreserved produces some of the best radio in Canada and it’s almost completely Manitoba-grown.

10. If you’re looking for an amazing, local Indigenous TV show, check out APTN’s Future History, hosted by Sarain Fox and Kris Nahrgang. It is funny, focuses on Indigenous cultural revitalization, and shows how people are working together for the future.

11. The Manitoba Museum recently opened an exhibit entitled Ni Kishishin (I Remember). It honours Ste. Madeleine, a community of Métis who were forcibly removed along the Manitoba and Saskatchewan border.

12. Cree-Saulteaux health advocate Dr. Marcia Anderson was recently named one of “Canada’s Most Powerful Women,” by Women’s Executive Network.

Indigenous peoples across Manitoba are changing the world:

13. Aandeg Muldrew, a 19-year-old who learned to speak his traditional language, Ojibwa, fluently, is the youngest instructor at the University of Manitoba.

14. Martha Troian, an Ojibway investigative journalist based in Winnipeg, recently won a prestigious William Southam Journalism Fellowship to live and work at Massey College in Toronto.

15. Chantelle Bone this week has travelled to Toronto to compete in the Indigichef culinary competition against the best Indigenous cooks in Canada.

16. Oji-Cree poet Joshua Whitehead won the gay fiction category at the 2019 Lambda Literary Awards for his novel, Jonny Appleseed.

17. Aliya Mrochuk and Marshall Morrisseau won Winnipeg Foundation awards at the 2019 Youth in Philanthropy “pitch party,” resulting in donations to Snowflake Place (a space for children who have suffered sexual and physical abuse) and Youth Parliament.

18. Carl Stone, a long-time Brokenhead elder and advocate for Indigenous students at the U of M, was honoured at the 18th Annual Keeping the Fires Burning gathering.

19. Edie Turner, principal of Cormorant School near The Pas, has been a fierce advocate for Indigenous education for 45 years.

20. Albert Tait is still teaching in his seventies at Jack River School, sharing knowledge and Cree language, and making sure all students in Norway House make it to school on time.

21. Edward Monias, the “Elvis of the North,” was recognized with lifetime achievement honours at the 2019 Indigenous Music Awards last month in Winnipeg.

22. Ojibwa hockey star Reggie Leach was recognized by Brock University with an honorary degree. A Conn Smythe and Stanley Cup winner, he is one of the most prolific NHL goal-scorers in history and the fact the “Riverton Rifle” is not in the Hockey Hall of Fame is an ongoing travesty.

23. I’ll steal the last one: this is my 100th column for the Winnipeg Free Press. Thanks to my family and especially my daughter, Nimizhiinibikwe, on this amazing year. Here’s to more.

Miigwech, and happy National Indigenous Peoples Day.

Niigaan Sinclair

Niigaan Sinclair

Niigaan Sinclair is Anishinaabe and is a columnist at the Winnipeg Free Press.

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