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Canada Kicks Off Aboriginal History Month

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Canada is welcoming the advent of Aboriginal History Month, which showcases the foundation that existed here for millennia before European settlers arrived.

Though aboriginals already know they exist, June marks an opportunity to broadcast to all of Canada as well as the rest of the world the history and contributions of indigenous peoples to this land. Assembly of First Nations (AFN) National Chief Shawn A-in-chut Atleo is calling June 2011 a month of Advocacy, Awareness and Action for First Nations.

“Our goal this June is to continue to advance a greater understanding between First Nations and all Canadians,” he said in a statement. “We must all remember the enduring relationship between First Nations and the Crown, enshrined in Treaty and the responsibilities this relationship creates for all Canadians. We are all Treaty people. We have an opportunity to build a stronger Canada for all of us by returning to the original vision of working together in partnership, mutual respect and understanding. First Nations are the youngest and fastest growing population in this country. We are the future. We want to work with Canadians on a path forward that unlocks the full potential of all First Nations in this country.”

AFN-sponsored events include a Summer Solstice Aboriginal Arts Festival in Ottawa from June 17–19, a roundtable discussion on First Nation citizenship with indigenous artists on June 20 and a Parliamentary reception during which Members of Parliament will meet with students to share cultural teachings and perspectives, the AFN statement said. Here is a list of more activities. The AFN is also listing activities from around the country and would like people to send in event notification to be included.

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The same weekend as the festival, the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network (APTN) over in Winnipeg is putting on a festival of its own, Aboriginal Day Live & Festival, on June 18.

Federal government–sanctioned highlights include National Aboriginal Day on June 21, Saint-Jean-Baptiste Day on June 24 and Multiculturalism Day on the 27th, according to the Canadian ministry of Indian and Northern Affairs Canada (soon to be renamed Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development), which calls it “an opportunity to honor the heritage, contribution and cultures of Aboriginal peoples in Canada.”

Others around the country will mark the day as well. The Daily Gleaner of Fredricton has published a list of films that will be shown from the NFB Chiefs series every Wednesday during June at the local public library.

"This series is the saga of five great First Nations chiefs—Sitting Bull, Pontiac, Joseph Brant, Black Hawk and Poundmaker—whose stories form a central drama in the history of the North American continent," the Daily Gleaner said in its notice. "What you will see in this series is not the romanticized, highly improbable versions of their lives portrayed for years by Hollywood film makers. In these episodes, their living descendents tell their stories and reveal, through documentary and re-enactment, an alternative and essential history of Canada and the U.S."

Stay tuned for further information and links to more activities as the month wears on.