As we look forward and celebrate Indigenous culture throughout the month of June I also want to reflect back.
Growing up Indigenous in the Traditional Territory of Treaty 7, it was Indigenous awareness every day. At a young age, my family moved off the Eden Valley reserve and into Calgary. Coming from a small, isolated community, into the ‘Big City’ was a new experience. I attended all of my elementary schooling in the Catholic School system. For a long-time not only was I the only “Indian” (the term used back then) but I was also the only minority in the school. There was no Indigenous History Month, no Aboriginal Awareness Week Calgary, and I don’t recall June 21 being celebrated for National Indigenous Peoples Day.
Although it was difficult being the only Indigenous kid in school and the only Indigenous family in the community, I was able to stay connected to my culture through my grandparents, who always reminded me about who I am and where I come from. They taught me to be proud of my culture and that I need to understand how to walk in both the western and Indigenous worlds.
Fast forward to today. Canada has acknowledged the painful history of the Indigenous people. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission published recommendations to action national reconciliation. There are national celebrations taking place throughout Canada with all Canadians and Indigenous people taking part together. Non-Indigenous people are taking the time to educate themselves on our history and culture and are willing to have difficult conversations to advance reconciliation personally and professionally.
Reflecting on my time in Calgary, we have made great steps forward in recognition of Indigenous people. Now, during June, there are numerous events taking place throughout Calgary and the City is embracing Indigenous events. We, the Indigenous people, have a larger platform to showcase our rich and beautiful Indigenous culture within the City. I hope you take the opportunity to continue your journey of learning, and please consider joining in activities this Sunday.