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National Indigenous Peoples Day

June 21, 2024

For generations, Indigenous communities have been celebrating their culture and heritage on the summer solstice, the longest day of the year, which falls on June 20th, 21st, and 22nd depending on the year. The summer solstice holds important significance for Indigenous communities for several reasons. It is a time of renewal, connecting with the land and natural cycles, and reflection. There are teachings passed down from generation to generation within Indigenous communities that are associated with celestial events, such as the summer solstice. It is a time for education and awareness raising about Indigenous wisdom, teachings, and forms of knowledge production.

Since 1996, June 21st of each year is recognized as National Indigenous Peoples Day in Canada. However, it is important to acknowledge that this fixed date was chosen by the then-Governer General of Canada as the summer solstice sometimes falls on this date. This year, the summer solstice fell on June 20th. Since 2009, June has also been designated as Indigenous History Month.

While celebrating the diversity and richness of Indigenous communities and cultures, we must also remember the history of violent and oppressive colonial efforts to destroy the very same Indigenous communities and cultures. We must also remember the continued oppression of Indigenous communities across Canada. We must remember the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women. As such, we must recognize that Indigenous communities are at a higher risk of mental health and substance use challenges as a result of this transgenerational trauma.

At PeerWorks, we are so grateful to have member organizations that are working to support Indigenous communities across Ontario through peer support services. In particular, we want to highlight True Self – Debwewendizwin. 

The organization strives to promote the safety, self-sufficiency and well-being of individuals who have suffered trauma and abuse. An initiative of the Nipissing First Nation and its community partners, True Self uses a holistic approach to healing, employment and training supports, working to support individuals and their families living in the Nipissing District to “debwewendizwin”— “reconnect with your true self, your spirit fire.”

To learn more, please visit their website HERE. For a list of PeerWorks member organizations across Ontario, click HERE. For a list of resources for Indigenous Peoples, click HERE.