Why Lifelong Learning is Critical During National Indigenous History Month

By Kory Melnick

Among the various visual elements illustrating Indigenous cultures, the sun (the summer solstice) is at the center which is at the heart of the festivities. The First Nations, Inuit and Métis as well as the four elements of nature (earth, water, fire and air) are represented in the image and shown opposite. The whole visual is supported by a multicolored smoke* reminding us of Indigenous spirituality but also the colors of the rainbow - symbol of inclusion and diversity of all First Nations, Inuit and Métis communities and their members.

*Smoke is used in different ways by all three Indigenous groups in Canada. Whether it is to smoke fish and meat, to burn sage and tobacco or for sacred ceremonies or celebrations, it is a significant symbol in Indigenous cultures.

Description of the three icons:
The eagle to represent the First Nations peoples
The narwhal to represent the Inuit peoples
The violin to represent the Métis peoples
National Indigenous History Month banner

June is National Indigenous History Month in Canada, a time for both Indigenous and non-Indigenous people to reflect upon and learn about the unique histories, cultures, and heritages of First Nations, Inuit, and Metis communities. 

National Indigenous History Month is a call to action for settler-Canadians to improve our understanding of Canada’s colonial past and present. Additionally, National Indigenous History Month allows Canadians to express their genuine appreciation for the many contributions of Indigenous peoples and communities, and to celebrate the strength and resiliency of Indigenous peoples today, amidst the ongoing effects of colonization. 

At the Patrick Power Library, we are fortunate to foster a learning environment on the traditional and unceded land of the Mi’kmaq. In awknowledgement of this, we’ve highlighted a list of suggested action items for settler-Canadians to consider.

Settler-Canadian Action Items 

1. Whose land do you live on? 

You’ve probably heard of land acknowledgments, which often take place at the beginning of an event. Genuine and well thought out land acknowledgments recognize the people upon whose land we live, work and play. Learn more about land acknowledgments and why they are important. Also, visit https://native-land.ca/ and use the interactive map to learn and explore! 

2. Read the Truth and Reconciliation Report

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) was established in 2008. It provided those impacted by the Indian Residential School system an opportunity to make their voices heard and detail how the Canadian government can enact change and facilitate reconciliation. The final report was released in 2015 with 94 calls to action. The Canadian government has so far completed only ten.

3. Do some research 

The Patrick Power Library has plenty of resources and materials to help you research Indigenous history and cultures. You’ll find tons of great resources on the Indigenous Studies LibGuide. Here are just a few of many great resources you might explore, depending on your area of interest:

Database: 

Archives: 

Journals: 

EBooks: 

Web Resources  

We know that finding information on a topic that may be new to you can be overwhelming. Don’t hesitate to contact the Library’s Research Help Team if you’re looking for information, even if it’s for general interest and not for an assignment.

4. Show your Support

Settler-Canadians are responsible for our personal commitments to working towards reconciliation. You can show this commitment by following the action items above, as well as donating to local Indigenous organizations or following local activists on social media. Below are some resources to help guide you on ways you can show your support. 

True North Aid – Canadian Charities Helping Indigenous Communities in Canada 

HuffPost – Indigenous Canadians On Instagram Celebrate Their Culture Beautifully 

It’s vital to keep listening and learning about Indigenous history, particlarly as settlers. National Indigenous History Month can help us celebrate Indigenous brilliance and success; recognize and acknowledge the realities of intergenerational trauma; and work towards a brighter, more just future for all.  

This list was adapted from the action items listed on www.OnCanadaProject.ca/SettlersTakeAction. Please visit this website for more information. 

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