National Indigenous Day 2022 gathering held at Arthur ‘Butch’ Elliott Azhdayoniquot Memorial Cultural Grounds

·3 min read

NEYAASHIINIGMIING – The sounds and smells of summer drifted across Arthur “Butch” Elliott Azhdayoniquot Memorial Cultural Grounds, formerly Cape Croker Park, as hundreds gathered to celebrate Summer Solstice and National Indigenous Day on June 21.

Under the arbour in the centre of the Memorial Cultural Grounds at the park, an assembly line of barbecues cooked up a magnificent feast for the people; hamburgers, sausages, and salad were on the menu, provided at no charge to the guests.

Many people lined up for their chance to dunk a band councillor in the ever-popular dunk tank, which also provided some relief from the sweltering heat for those who participated.

Archery, archeology, and artisan’s booths lined the park perimeter while several local musicians played on the main stage, sharing their music with the all-ages crowd watching from their camp chairs and blankets spread out on the ground.

Summer Solstice continues to be an important moment for Indigenous people, who celebrate the longest day of the year worldwide. The date for National Indigenous Day coincides with Summer Solstice for this reason.

“In cooperation with Indigenous organizations, the Government of Canada chose June 21, the summer solstice, for National Aboriginal Day, now known as National Indigenous Peoples Day,” the Government of Canada website said. “For generations, many Indigenous peoples and communities have celebrated their culture and heritage on or near this day due to the significance of the summer solstice as the longest day of the year.”

According to Keepers of the Water, an Indigenous-led organization, Indigenous cultures worldwide celebrate and honour the Summer Solstice with festivals and ceremonies as the Solstice marks the beginning of summer.

“Indigenous peoples track, record, and understand the movement of celestial bodies. Our continued existence as Indigenous peoples has always been guided by the distinct seasonal change we experience around us. This guidance we receive from the land and all of the different forms of life we share territory with,” states the group.

Indigenous ceremonies, including the potlatch, ghost dance, shake tent, and sundance, were banned in 1884 under the 1876 Indian Act. People were arrested for conducting or participating in traditional ceremonies, and the Canadian government forcibly took the ceremonial materials away.

Songs, prayers, sacred items, and ceremonies were kept hidden, practiced in secret to keep the traditions alive “until such a time comes for our People to return to our land and live our traditional ways in a modern world.”

The ban on traditional Indigenous ways remained in effect until 1951.

“While the effects of the criminalization of our beautiful ceremonies are still felt today, that time of reclaiming our land-based traditions and ceremonies is now and we are living history by openly passing down our traditional knowledge to the next generation,” Keepers of the Water said. “We are waking up and reclaiming our identities, communities, songs, prayers, medicines, and trusting in the science of our ancestors.”

Gatherings and ceremonies were held across Canada to celebrate the Summer Solstice and National Indigenous Day 2022.

Cory Bilyea, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Wingham Advance Times

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting