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Indigenous People's Day during Indigenous Awareness Week promotes partnerships

Community events mark national awareness day and month of honouring Indigenous People of Canada .

Lac La Biche County Mayor Paul Reutov officially signed a municipal proclamation recognizing June 21 as Indigenous Peoples Day of Canada. The day will be celebrated across the municipality, the region and the country.

The national day of recognition falls on the Summer Solstice,and within National Indigenous Awareness Month. 

Reutov signed an official proclamation on behalf of the municipality in the days leading up to the national day of recognition, highlighting the rich history, culture and contributions of Indigenous people in the community and across the nation. 

“The contributions of Indigenous Peoples past, present, and future are immeasurable,” Reutov said after signing the decree. 

This year marks 25 years since the federal government officially established June 21 to as a day to recognize Indigenous people. Initially called National Aboriginal Day, the name of the nationally-recognized day has changed, but the intent has not. In more recent years, the single day has been expanded to be part of a month of Indigenous recognition. Since 2008, the month of June has been recognized to highlight Indigenous culture.   

Municipal councils, Indigenous partners, schools and local organizations in and around Lac La Biche County have been part of the awareness events since they began. This year, said Reutov, with heightened attention to truth and reconciliation stemming from continuing residential school trauma, municipal leaders are pledging to continue building their strong relationships with Indigenous people and communities.  

“Lac La Biche County is committed to advancing truth and reconciliation in relationships with Indigenous Peoples, First Nations, Métis Settlements, and the Métis Region,” said Reutov. 

Committed to support  

Officially recognizing the day and making a commitment on behalf of County officials to continue to work on building relationships with all Indigenous groups around the county is a positive step forward, said Lac La Biche County Coun. Kevin Paré, who himself is a Métis person.  

“The Mayor is taking a lead role in building these relationships based on truth and reconciliation. We still have some work to do,” admitted Paré, but he is confident that the continuing relationships built on a foundation of mutual support will continue in the right direction. “For him acknowledging Indigenous Peoples Day is a step in a long and prosperous relationship with our Indigenous People that are in and around our community.” 

For the new team of municipal representatives who took office last October during Alberta's 2021 Municipal Election, he says there has been an ongoing initiative that has seen council members network, advocate for change and build a positive relationship with all Indigenous groups. Through the County’s Indigenous Collaboration Committee that has four Council representatives—including himself—in recent months they have made progress, he added. 

Recent visits between municipal officials and the leaders of Beaver Lake Cree Nation, Kikino Métis Settlement, Heart Lake First Nation, Buffalo Lake Métis Settlement, as well as with groups and organizations that represent the area’s Indigenous people, show that the County is continuing to emphasize the importance of those relationships.  

“We’ve been making strides since the election…we’ve been meeting with various indigenous groups that are our neighbours throughout the year so far,” he said. 

The meetings so far are promising because Indigenous leaders are eager to continue to work with county council, said Paré. 

“The meetings are quite similar—they’re different groups—but the trials, tribulations and the wants and the needs are all quite similar and they’re anxious to build relationships with the County,” he said. 

Making strides 

Having all groups and the municipality at the same table, continuing to build a positive relationship, gives all residents more of a voice to address matters with provincial and federal partners that may be outside of the municipal jurisdiction as well.  

“We’re building those relationships and we’re hoping to move forward. As an Indigenous person, I’m very proud of what we’ve done so far and I’m very anxious and ready to work hard to put us in the future," he said.  

Around the community on June 21, organization, communities and groups will be hosting a variety of awareness and celebration events to mark Indigenous People’s Day. One community event will see activities and events for adults and children take over the Buffalo Lake Métis Settlement community hall. The event starts at 10 a.m., with prizes for the best Métis outfits, games and a free lunch. While it’s not being held on June 21, the Lac La Biche Canadian Native Friendship Centre is continuing its Free Lunch Wednesdays. Anyone wanting to take part in the weekly program or to donate, can contact the centre at 780-623-3249.  


About the Author: Rahma Dalmar

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