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Day of recognition... generations of strength

ROb opinion 2000-1333

The pageantry, the colour, the culture, history, the people ... it is all there. Right along with the heartache and tragedy.

Indigenous Awareness Month and National Indigenous People's Day are Canada-wide recognitions of this land's original people. The special designations are recognitions of the past, present and future of the country's Indigenous people — including the horrific mistreatment that many have faced ... and many more continue to struggle with.

Across the county over the last month, and in the days surround the June 21 National Indigenous People's Day, the history and culture of the Indigenous people is in the spotlight. It's easy for some non-Indigenous people to see the events as only fantastic displays of colour and sound, to applaud performers for their time on the stage, their intricate regalia and dance steps. But there's so much more behind every coloured-bead, every tilt of the hand. It's in the strength and pain that will pound, roar and scream from drum groups. It's in the jingle dresses will sparkle and shake, and in the feathers and beads of traditional dancers that jump and bounce. And its in the skirts that will twirl in a blur of red and white as the Metis dancers jig. They aren't there only to entertain, but to honour the journey — an often difficult journey— that continues.

The dances, songs, art, and Elders' stories represent a culture and tradition like no other. It also represents a tragic history that is, unfortunately, like many others. Abused, oppressed, exploited ... stolen, raped — all words to describe a dark, dark history for the Indigenous people — and the country that built up around them — in the not-so-distant past.

And still they dance. And still they tell their stories.

That kind of strength, that devotion, that pride is present in every step, every drum beat, every string slide on the fiddle, and every wrinkle in the smile of an Elder. But we have to see it.

They represent their past ancestry, while educating the present and hoping for the future.

Indigenous Awareness Month and the June 21 National Indigenous People's Day are special events to highlight and recognize the past, present and future of Indigenous people — but it only really works if all Canadians recognize their own role in that same timeframe. 



Rob McKinley

About the Author: Rob McKinley

Rob has been in the media, marketing and promotion business for 30 years, working in the public sector, as well as media outlets in major metropolitan markets, smaller rural communities and Indigenous-focused settings.
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