On June 21, not only did we celebrate the summer solstice, but we also celebrated a very important occasion: National Aboriginal Day (note: the Canadian Federal Government intends to change the name from National Aboriginal Day to National Indigenous Day). The Right Honourable Justin Trudeau described this day as a celebration of,
The history, art, traditions, and cultures of Indigenous Peoples [who] have shaped our past, and continue to shape who we are today.
In light of National Aboriginal Day yesterday, we wanted to explore the perspective of an indigenous student here at UWaterloo. We exchanged words with Shelby Keedwell, the co-president of the University of Waterloo’s Aboriginal Student Association (ASA).
The ASA promotes Indigenous traditional and cultural events. It is important that we have a presence on campus because we are First Peoples of the land. There should be a strong presence not just for inclusivity but to represent the land and Indigenous rights within our education system
National Aboriginal Day acknowledges Canada’s Indigenous people and celebrates their diverse culture and significant contributions. With Canada’s 150 coming up, it’s imperative that we understand the complicated heritage of our past.
It is important to recognize the diversity of each First Nations, Métis and Inuit Peoples through their heritage, language, culture and traditions. As a nation, it is important to celebrate and to be proud of our people
Whether or not it’s National Aboriginal Day, communities should continue to recognize the first inhabitants of the land, regardless of what day it is. The UWaterloo ASA, as well as the Waterloo Aboriginal Education Centre (WAEC), are two major resources for anyone who is looking to learn more about Indigenous cultures.
You can find them holding Soup and Bannock days every Thursday, or studying at the Waterloo Education Aboriginal Centre, located at St. Paul’s University-College.
I’ve been able to participate in sweat lodges, territorial land acknowledgement workshops, and moccasin and drum making workshops. The ASA students and the staff at the WAEC have helped me reconnect with my heritage and rediscover a part of my identity. I will be ever grateful.
If you’d like to learn more about the ASA, you can send them an email at email@example.com, or you can personally meet the WAEC staff in room 232 at St. Paul's University College. Don’t forget to follow their Facebook to keep up with their future events!