Across Canada, the heritage, culture and outstanding contributions of First Nations, Métis and Inuit peoples are celebrated annually on June 21 – National Aboriginal Day. This year, many United Ways honored this day in very special ways, including several that aligned with United Way’s annual Day of Action promoting volunteerism worldwide.
Vancouver, British Columbia
In Vancouver, British Columbia, United Way Lower Mainland celebrated the opening of an Early Childhood Development Hub in the Xa’xtsa Douglas First Nation community of Tipella, BC – providing a place for kids to go to school, youth to attend drop-in programs, and families to cook together in the community kitchen.
United Way Centraide Ottawa (Ottawa, Ontario) highlighted the award-winning work of local community agency Minwaashin Lodge – a grassroots organization offering programs for First Nations, Inuit and Métis women and children who have survived domestic or other forms of violence.
Williams Lake, British Columbia
In Williams Lake, British Columbia, United Way Thompson Nicola Cariboo (Kamloops, BC) partnered with the Northern Shuswap Tribal Council and Kimberly-Clark Depend to host a National Aboriginal Day event celebrating the traditions of local Aboriginal peoples. This event relied on a network of volunteers to engage the community in traditional Aboriginal activities from bannock making competitions, to feather painting, to Lahal games.
United Way Winnipeg (Winnipeg, Manitoba) recognized the work of its Council for Indigenous Relations, which has worked for over 10 years to build on the strengths of the Indigenous community – and the strengths of United Way – in a collective effort to make Winnipeg a better city today and for the future.
In Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, United Way Saskatoon & Area participated in the Rock Your Roots event, bringing the community together to celebrate diversity, learn about different cultures and make strides toward reconciliation. Thousands of people walked together in an act of solidarity for all races, cultures and backgrounds.
As we look to the future, United Way Centraide and other charitable organizations in Canada must continue to integrate the Aboriginal community in all that we do. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada examined historical injustices against Aboriginal peoples, and laid out a plan of action to guide the country’s journey toward building a strong relationship – based on mutual respect – with First Nations, Metis and Inuit communities.
Charitable organizations must play a key role in this journey – it is only through collective efforts that we can build a true partnership between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Canadians. Together, we can encourage dialogue, understanding and change.
United Way Centraide Canada is signing on to the Philanthrophic Community’s Declaration of Action – a commitment to sharing our network, voice and resources to include and benefit Aboriginal peoples. By playing our part on the path to reconciliation, we can all help to build a stronger, more inclusive Canada.