Honouring National Indigenous Peoples Day

June 2021 – June 21 is National Indigenous Peoples Day, a time for us to recognize and celebrate the cultures of Indigenous Peoples in Canada. In honour of the 25th anniversary of this day, a few of our Cenovus staff share what it means to them.

“I am the Vice-Chair of the Indigenous Community Sharing Circle, a staff-led resource group at Cenovus. Of Métis ancestry, I have also been a member of Region 3 Calgary for 23+ years.

National Indigenous Peoples Day is not only about celebrating the various beautiful Indigenous cultures across Canada, it’s more significant than that.  To me, it’s also about the incredible resilience of Indian, Inuit & Métis people. The fact that we are still here, still standing, demonstrates that deep within Indigenous culture there is an unshakeable foundation which people continue drawing their strength from; and that’s why I’m proud to be Métis.

I look forward to hosting an in-person powwow when we can all gather together again.” 

To me, National Indigenous Peoples Day is a chance to honour my grandparents and celebrate the uniqueness of my Métis culture. My maternal grandparents were really influential in my upbringing. My Grandpa was a trapper, a guide and a fantastic storyteller. My Grandma was a seamstress, and a survivor of residential school. My family roots run deep in western Canada and I’m fascinated by the strength and resiliency that my ancestors had.

This year for National Indigenous Peoples Day, I look forward to participating in virtual activities organized by our Indigenous Community Sharing Circle and watching the broadcast of the 2021 Indspire Awards.”

I grew up in Yellowknife, NWT and National Indigenous Peoples Day is a provincial statutory holiday. I remember it as a day of family, events and celebration. Since leaving the North, I use this day to remember, honour and learn more about my heritage. My quest for knowledge, combined with my longing to share the beauty of the Northern celebrations with my son makes this day very special.

One of my favorite traditions is Métis jigging and fiddle-playing. It is a dance originating from the Red River area and has First Nations, Scottish and French-Canadian steps. One of the most famous is the Red River Jig. I have many friends and family members that are amazing fiddlers and jiggers. It is such an amazing sight!”

“National Indigenous Peoples Day means a time to celebrate with friends and family and to share our culture and histories within Canada and around the world.

My favourite tradition and memory growing up, was being initiated in the powwow circle when I was 14. The initiation also features a tradition called “give away” where the hosting family purchases items to bless and give away to others in the crowd. Traditionally, In Nehiyaw culture, we showed our pride and enrichment by our beadwork and accoutrements and how much we are able to give others, not what we can accumulate for ourselves.”

“In the mid-1900s there was an effort in Newfoundland and Labrador to remove the Indigenous culture from the population. My father grew up in an era where he was shamed for admitting that he was Mi’kmaq.  As a result, I was well into my adulthood before I fully knew of my Mi’kmaq heritage. 

I promptly went to work researching my ancestors and connections and I am grateful to now feel that I know my ancestors, their way of life and what their spiritual beliefs were.

As a very proud Mi’kmaq woman and a member of the Qalipu First Nation, I have also taken part in many cultural ceremonies and learning opportunities that have allowed me to reconnect with my heritage. National Indigenous Peoples Day is an opportunity for me to share in celebrations and to learn more about my culture and traditions.”

Being Indigenous I feel it is important to celebrate Indigenous contributions to Canada. By showcasing the rich and diverse cultures of Indigenous Peoples, it gives everyone an opportunity to deepen their understanding of the unique adversities that we as a people are facing now and have to overcome.

My daughters are at an age where they are starting to understand what it is to be Indigenous, and the importance of understanding their culture.

I’m Dene, from Cold Lake First Nations, and my wife is Coast Salish from Sliammon First Nation. We enjoy sharing the beauty of both our cultures with our girls.”

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