Each year on June 1, we acknowledge the start of National Indigenous History Month, a time to commemorate, contemplate and celebrate the diverse contributions, histories and cultures of Indigenous Nations including First Nation, Inuit and Métis Peoples. National Indigenous History Month is about celebrating Indigenous culture, but it is also a time to reflect on what more we can do as an organization and as individuals to continue the path toward meaningful reconciliation.
Although we formally celebrate National Indigenous History Month in June every year, we must remember that Indigenous Peoples across Canada and globally have never ceased exercising their inherent right to independence as sovereign nations. They have lived on their traditional territories while celebrating their languages and culture, inclusive of stories, songs, and ceremonies, despite historical and present-day colonial practices and policies.
We are very fortunate to be living in this era of Indigenous cultural revitalization and resurgence of Indigenous ways of knowing and being. Applying Indigenous knowledge relational practices has positively impacted societal concerns such as climate change, restorative justice practices, education and stewardship of lands, and natural resources. In 2016, Canada adopted the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People (UNDRIP), the framework upon which the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC)’s vision of Reconciliation and the TRC Calls to Action was founded. UNDRIP upholds the diverse and inherent rights, dignity and worth of Indigenous Peoples, confronts and denounces racism and provides protection from forced assimilation and destruction of culture.
The federal government is currently developing its UNDRIP Action Plan to advance reconciliation throughout all levels of government. For municipalities, a commitment to the principles upheld in UNDRIP can provide opportunities to reimagine reconciliation in the context of Urban Indigenous governance in our communities. This involves continuing to build relationships based on mutual respect and the inherent right to Indigenous self-determination exercised through the collective right of co-development and co-decision-making within the spirit of collaborative partnerships.
The City of Ottawa actively supports Indigenous communities and the Indigenous right to self-determination as the national dialogue related to the implementation of UNDRIP and its impact on Indigenous governmental relationships takes place. The City is committed to reframing and renewing its approach and promise to reconciliation in partnership with Algonquin Host Nation leaders and urban Indigenous partners.