June is celebrated as National Indigenous History Month, and June 21 as National Indigenous Peoples Day. National Indigenous History Month is utilized to learn about, acknowledge, and appreciate, the contributions of First Nations, Inuit, and Métis people. This time may be used to bring awareness to, remember, and honour: Indigenous cultural practices, MMIWG2S, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (TRC), Residential Schools along with their victims and survivors, and the history of Indigenous families and the child welfare system, in which there remains a high prevalence of Indigenous children in care to this date. Although in-person celebrations and events are limited during COVID-19, there are still many ways children can get involved in learning about Indigenous culture as well as colonialism:
- Begin teaching children at a young age about the TRC. Spirit Bear’s Guide to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada may be helpful to teach children about the Commission.
- Honouring Memories, Planting Dreams is an activity that invites people of all ages to plant “heart gardens” in memory of children lost to the residential school system, to honour residential school survivors and their families, and support the legacy of the TRC. The act of planting represents commitment to reconciliation. You may also access other classroom or family activities for children to celebrate Honouring Memories, Planting Dreams, such as Spirit Bear’s free Ebook and learning Guide and colouring sheet.
- The Royal Saskatchewan Museum (RSM) is streaming a special series of online programs to recognize the unique cultures and contributions of the Indigenous peoples of Saskatchewan. Programs both live streamed and recorded from May-July include, Elder Hazel and the 7 Grandfather Teachings, Tipi Camp Display video tour, and National Indigenous Peoples Day celebrations.
- Access First Nations Child and Family Caring Society’s learning activity “Finding Our Place in Reconciliation” and information sheet “Reconciliation is All of Us” to gather ideas for supporting reconciliation in June and throughout the year.
- There are also many Indigenous books, podcasts, and social media pages featuring Indigenous influencers, artists, and Knowledge Keepers for all ages, including adults, to access and enhance their own knowledge.
The history of Indigenous peoples in Canada as well as Indigenous cultural practices should be remembered and taught to all Canadians, including young children. Before we can achieve reconciliation, we must have truth.