June is National Indigenous History Month, which takes on new meaning and significance in light of recent events. During this time, we recognize and reflect upon the history, heritage and diverse cultures of Indigenous Peoples throughout our province and country. This is also the perfect opportunity to expand your knowledge and understanding by reading books by Indigenous writers, listening to Indigenous stories, watching films from Indigenous filmmakers, and supporting the work of Indigenous artists and makers.
On June 21, as we welcome the summer solstice, we also observe National Indigenous Peoples Day (NIPD), which provides further opportunity to explore and learn about the array of Indigenous languages, cultural and spiritual practices, experiences, and Indigenous knowledge as a whole. This year marks the 25th anniversary of NIPD and if you’re looking for an opportunity to observe and learn more about the significance of the events, here in this province, First Light is an excellent place to start.
A non-profit organization, headquartered on Water Street in St. John’s, First Light serves both the urban Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities. The organization offers a great range of programs and services aimed at strengthening and celebrating Indigenous cultures and languages. Some of these include Parent Child Mother Goose, the First Light Youth Program, and an excellent Indigenous Cultural Diversity Training program, just to name a few.
First Light will also be hosting a week-long series of events and activities (a mix of both in-person and virtual events) in honour of National Indigenous History Month and NIPD (registration is required for in-person and Zoom events). It kicks off with an “Intro to Cultural Humility” led by facilitator Heidi Dixon on June 18. The NIPD events begin on June 21 at 6am with a Sunrise Ceremony at 36 Quidi Vidi Road, followed by Showcases and Inuit Games (a competition-style demonstration) at noon via Zoom.
On Tuesday, June 22, the activities continue with a virtual children’s performance from Kat & Sal at 11am, later followed by Kayak Teachings at 6pm over Zoom, in which Noah Nochasak will give teachings on the kayak and its traditional uses. Throughout the week there will also be lessons in basket weaving and drum tying, as well as musical and dance performances. On June 28 at 6:30pm live on Facebook, First Light will also feature “Indigenous Women in the Arts,” a panel in which Indigenous women musicians, artists and creators from across Atlantic Canada will discuss music, culture, tradition and industry. (To see the full list of events and activities, check out First Light’s Facebook page.)
We encourage you to check out any and all activities, and to take this time to learn more about the history, culture and experiences of Indigenous Peoples here in this province, and beyond.