(SAULT STE. MARIE, ON: June 21, 2020): Each year, June 21st is recognized as National Indigenous Peoples Day, a day to celebrate the heritage, diverse cultures and outstanding achievements of First Nations, Inuit and Métis people.
“As the sunshines, the rivers flow and the grass grows green, the summer solstice marks our National holiday and the beginning of a summer of Indigenous celebrations throughout the land where we share our culture, traditions, food, music, dance and create new memories with family,” shared Della Anaquod, President and Dean of Shingwauk Kinoomaage Gamig.
The Shingwauk site was envisioned by Chief Shingwauk and his community as a place that would house a teaching wigwam; a place where his people could acquire the necessary educational tools in modern society without comprising the values of Indigenous culture and traditions. The partners on the Shingwauk site are committed to the restoration of this original spirit and intent of Chief Shingwauk.
“Algoma has been given a very special mission, one that connects to its place on this historical site,” said Asima Vezina, President and Vice-Chancellor of Algoma University.
“Today, in partnership, we have many important projects underway as we work toward this vision. We are working to create and build:
- Mukqua Waakaa’igan a national centre that will house the archives of the Residential Schools era, a place that will help people understand the truth and impact of this time period to both Indigenous and non-Indigenous people.
- The Ontario Institute for Mental Health and Addictions Research and Training Institute; a place that will bring Indigenous and Western knowledge together to tackle one of our provinces largest societal challenges. This will be a partnership between Shingwauk Kinoomaage Gamig, Northern Ontario School of Medicine, Sault College, Algoma University and the Sault Area Hospital and has been strongly endorsed by Chief Sayer, Batechewana FN, Chief Rickard, Garden River and Chief Gauthier, Missinaabe Cree, the City of SSM under the leadership of Mayor Provenzano and MPP and Minister of Colleges and Universities – the honourable Minister, Ross Romano
This year, we were proud to co-host the University of Canada, National Reconciliation Forum on the site to move conversations and action to a deeper level as all Universities across this country consider the Calls to Action and the role they will continue to play. We saw 20 000 visitors to the Reclamation of Shingwauk Hall exhibit, a special project driven by the survivor community of the former residential school. We attracted and hired a Canada Research Chair in Healing and Reconciliation, an Ojibwe language and Anishinaabe Studies faculty members. It is wonderful to see the Anishinaabe culture and the cultural and spiritual teachings and ceremonies valued, respected and alive on campus.
In 2019-2020, the student leadership at the University, under the Shingwauk Anishinaabe Student Association opened its new Student Life Centre, a beautiful place of culture and support for students as they continue their journey. Algoma University student, AUSU and SASA member Colter Assiniwai shared his thoughts about this day this week with the AU community.
Algoma University Chancellor, Residential School Survivor and member of the Children of Shingwauk Alumni Association Shirley Horn took the time to share the significance of this day:
“I wish to thank everyone who has lifted their hearts and minds for staying the course. Over the years we have worked together, through good times when we had nothing and hard times when everyone questioned us. For many years it was a tug of war between Algoma UC and even with our own people. I never understood why. People just weren’t ready for the change and our leadership that worked tirelessly to move forward to address the wrongs right up to the “Truth and Reconciliation” initiative to today. Many things are changing now and I am proud to stand with my sisters and brothers to share our stories, our culture and our love today. We are one with the universe. This is the best journey we are on today, the only journey. Our Elders, past present and today, say Miigwetch to the Creator that our paths have crossed in this time and place.” – Shirley Horn
Many members of the Children of Shingwauk Alumni Association prepared personal reflections on the meaning of National Indigenous People’s Day, all can be read here.
“The beauty of this good life has been celebrated for generations. Many ceremonies, intentions and prayers have been stated over the years. Our ancestors were thinking of us seven generations ago; hoping and praying that we would be living mino bimaadiziwin~the good life. Our summer solstice and the national celebration of Indigenous Day mark the start of a new year for us, the beauty of the growing season is here, Shkagamik Kwe (Mother Earth) is in full bloom and indeed, helps us live the good life. Anishinaabe teachings remind us we are all connected, we are stewards of the land and it is important to ensure we are doing what we can to take care of her, to take care of each other and days like today serve as a formal moment to pause and reflect.” – Elizabeth Edgar-Webkamigad, Director of the Shingwauk Residential Schools Centre
Following protocol due to COVID-19, a sacred fire will be lit this morning in the fire arbour, this ceremony will mark collective good thoughts about the life we have ~ mino bimaadiziwin, giving thanks back to Creation, celebrating and acknowledging this special day.
For more information, visit the Government of Canada website here. Join the conversation on social media: Twitter: @GCIndigenous and @GovCanNorth use the hashtag #NIPDCanada, Facebook: GCIndigenous, GovCanNorth and @GCIndigenousHealth, Instagram: @gcindigenous use the hashtag #NIPDCanada.