More than Words - National Indigenous History Month & Peoples Day


When our teams of Indigenous and non-Indigenous members and partners first began conceptualizing this resource space to celebrate National Indigenous History Month, Summer Solstice, and Indigenous Peoples Day, it was before the recent discovery of the unmarked, hidden remains of 215 children at a former residential school in Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc territory was announced last week.

This has triggered waves of grief, anger, and sorrow across Turtle Island and celebrating the diverse cultural brilliance of First Nations, Inuit, and Métis knowledge(s), healing practices, languages, art, music, film, dance, and literature this month is—and will continue to be—incredibly difficult. This combined with the inquest into the death of Joyce Echaquan (lacking real accountability and change at a nationwide level) and the ongoing systemic racism within our own country and all of the police brutality and killings of Indigenous and Black community members leave many at a loss, or angry, or triggered, or in high-advocacy and action mode, or a combination of all of that and then somebut with very little left for celebrating or educating. 

Indigenous peers, relations, community members, and patients alike know this is not the only residential school site with mass, unmarked hidden graves. The staggering numbers revealed from this inquest have unearthed collective grief, shock, anger, intergenerational traumas, and varying degrees of induced protective coping styles and behaviours which include an onslaught of denial and questions from non-Indigenous folx.

Our flags continue to be lowered and Indigenous peers, Knowledge Keepers, and those who are a part of our local community as patients, volunteers, and leaders, have stressed the importance of sharing these undeniable truths while also sharing and uplifting Indigenous brilliance. And to be patient, kind, and understanding with those who cannot take part.

Be gentle.

Be patient.

Be kind to your Indigenous friends, family, peers, students, faculty, learners, partners, and patients.

This time of grief and reflection must include More Than Words, more than lowered flags... real action is required. Part of that action is celebrating our youth and honouring our ancestors by having ceremonies and celebrations in COVID safe ways—healing through joyful art, music, language education, and literature infused practices and knowledge sharing. 

We encourage everyone to continue learning about the traditional lands we live on, read the reports and guides available on the CWP-IH hub (Truth and Reconciliation Report and its 94 calls to action, MMIWG2S Report recommendations and the Indigenous Health Primer and Health Values Statement). 

Choose one or more action items listed below to advance truth and reconciliation. Templates and resources a linked within: 

  1. Visit the On Canada Action Guide 
    Download the Indigenous Ally Toolkit
  2. Write your MP asking:
    1. For clean drinking water for First Nations, Inuit and Métis communities
    2. For TRC calls to action to be honoured as requested 2009: Forensic archaeology investigations on residential school sites
    3. That Orange Shirt Day (September 30th) be made a National Stat to honour ancestors, survivors, and to uplift the importance of education for all ages

More Than Words began as a humble movement that started at the outset of the Pandemic last year and has grown this year, standing in solidarity with Indigenous, Afro-Indigenous, Two-Spirit, gender diverse, and Black community members aligning with PRIDE month and flowing right into Black History Month, also noting the importance of Emancipation Day, known as Juneteenth.

As many know, Summer Solstice – the longest day of the year (this year falling on June 20th) –coincides with National Indigenous People’s Day. While traditions vary from nation-to-nation, Summer Solstice is a time when many cultures celebrate the beginning of summer. For many First Nations communities, giving thanks for all of creation and Mino Baamodziwin (The Good life) along with Mishoom Giizis, (Granfather Sun) is honoured, celebrated, and feasted. MANY strawberries are to be had. Ancestors honoured, Elders and youth doted on, listened to; and made to feel really special. 

This June, CWP-IH has collaborated on creating this Virtual Resource Space with our partners (UHN Indigenous Health & Social Medicine, The Indigenous Cancer Care Program, Ontario Health (Toronto), and U of T’s Office of Indigenous Health.) This hub features a calendar (below) highlighting several amazing initiatives and events to mark National Indigenous History Month and Indigenous People’s Day. (Dates and times to be announced next week):

These virtual events will include giveaways and a free botanical art download. Further details will be announced soon! 
In the meantime, explore the hub, update your calendars, and we really hope that you take at least one action item from the list above upon yourselfas a step towards authentic reconciliationand encourage your peers, family members, and neighbours to do the same.

We will be updating this space with more resources and if you have any suggestions or additional events for our calendar, please email us.

Click the graphics below for supports and resources from the Centre for WISE Practices and collaborative relations:

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