National Aboriginal Day message from President Russell
National Aboriginal Day is a day to celebrate and share our rich culture and heritage. It is an opportunity to more fully appreciate our own history and our unique and special place. It is an opportunity for others to learn about us, to understand us and to recognize the tremendous contributions of our many indigenous peoples.
As Southern Inuit, we will take time to reflect on the great legacy left by the generations of our people, especially our grandmothers and great grandmothers, who came before us. They possessed an unwavering spirit and resiliancy that has carried through both the dark and good times. That same spirit is alive in us today.
This year is especially significant as it is the 20th anniversary of National Aboriginal Day celebrations. Over the past 20 years, we, in NunatuKavut, have held our heads a little higher, stood a little taller and have become increasingly prouder of our roots, our values and way of life. Our connection to the land, sea and ice that make up NunatuKavut – our ancient and beautiful territory – is steadfast and runs deep. It defines who we are. It is so important that we pass this sense of pride and identity on to our young people, who have the gift of time. We need their energy, their strength and their skills to carry us forward. The young ones will shape our path to the future. We will also take the time to be thankful for the gifts of our Elders. They have so much traditional knowledge and wisdom to share. They are our constant connection, our eyes into our past.
2016 also marks the 20-year anniversary of the Eagle River Protest. It is one of the most significant and formative events in the history of the people of NunatuKavut. Our people fought for our rights and against outsider encroachment on our lands. There is no denying our efforts were successful and we will remember and recognize this momentous time for its concrete and symbolic importance.
At its heart, Canada is an Indigenous country, made up of indigenous lands and a place where Indigenous ways of being continue to resonate. Although governments have strayed away from the original promises that were made and understood when Indigenous and non-Indigenous people came together, I am pleased that the Government of Canada is now recognizing the importance of a renewed, nation-to-nation relationship. This spirit of reconciliation makes me extremely optimistic about our future and the future of all Canadians.
On behalf of the NunatuKavut Community Council, I encourage you to join in the celebrations and I wish you all a happy National Aboriginal Day. Share in the beauty of who we are.