By Bill Mintram
Director, Indigenous and Northern Relations

As we recognize National Indigenous Peoples Day, we reflect on the importance of strengthening relationships and recognize the beauty found within the diversity and interconnection of First Nations, Inuit and Metis peoples across Turtle Island along with the extension of this to all our relations.

Given our current circumstance where gathering is not possible, we still have the opportunity to share in the spirit of this day through taking some time to recognize our connection to mother earth, who gives and sustains our livelihood, along with spending time learning and growing as families, and potentially joining in the virtual festivities taking place on a screen near you.

As an Indigenous person of Métis ancestry, I am witnessing the learning journey that our nation is taking in better understanding how we can work, live, and grow together. This year marks the fifth anniversary of the release of the Calls to Action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC). Throughout the mandate of the TRC, I had the opportunity to be involved in many events across the country and was present at the closing ceremonies. I had mixed feelings as a witness to the testimonies of survivors, yet great hope about how this could launch a new national journey. I do recognize there is still great work to do, but as each of these five years has gone by, I have seen significant changes across the country from communities building reconciliatory bridges, organizations and institutions undergoing transformational changes, and even deeper than this I have witnessed individuals, and families recognize what this means in their lives and show a willingness to un-learn and re-learn as it relates to the shared relationship all Canadians have with Indigenous peoples.

Shared experiences forge stronger relationships and the more we connect and learn as both individuals and as communities, the further we move towards fostering a culture shift that recognizes the importance of diversity and the unique place that Indigenous peoples and nations hold. As we look forward seven generations and make actions today that impact our future, we recognize that it is important to act with humility, respect, and in a spirit of reconciliation. This is a journey we are all on and we recognize that we might have unintentional biases or elements of racism that are present in what we have been taught, or how aspects of our community function. As we celebrate National Indigenous Peoples Day, and each day forward, let’s make the conscious decision of positively changing the narratives for the next seven generations. I encourage you, whether Indigenous or non-Indigenous to reflect on your personal journey in life, how this connects to reconciliation, and how you are interconnected with all your relations.