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National Aboriginal Solidarity Day

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MONTREAL, Quebec - On June 21 the summer solstice was especially meaningful
with the celebration of National Aboriginal Day on the crest of Mount Royal
overlooking the city of Montreal.

Canadian Assembly of First Nations Chief Phil Fontaine declared that the
day would henceforth be called "National Aboriginal Solidarity Day" as he
attended the National Congress of American Indians mid-year session in
Connecticut.

National Aboriginal Solidarity Day is an annual opportunity for Quebecois
to celebrate their relationship with their First Nations' brothers.

Native leaders, government representatives including Geoffrey Kelley,
chairman of the Committee on Education, respected artist and storyteller
Jacques Newashish and onlookers took part in a ceremony commemorating the
centennial of the foundation of the Montreal Children's Hospital. First
Nations' children who were being treated at the hospital were asked to tie
ribbons representing wishes to the tipi pole structure around the drum
group Wemotashee and the public was asked to join in.

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An Atikamekw oral legend was related about how years ago the ice retreated
and the climate was extremely damp. Mosquitoes filled the air spreading
sickness. The children were the first victims and the mothers and
grandmothers despaired that a cure would not be found in time. The elders
met to find a solution and they noticed how the spider wove a web to snare
the winged marauders. The elders gathered twigs and wove them into nets to
block the mosquitoes.

The Montreal Children's hospital has a long tradition of providing care to
First Nation's children. They are the only hospital to provide
pediatricians who travel to remote northern villages to treat and care for
the youths. The children made a gift of dreamcatchers with crystal spiders
to the dignitaries present at the ceremony to commemorate the triumph over
sickness.

Later that evening at the Theare Maisonneuve at the Place des Arts the
Festival's new partner, the Orchestre Metroplitain du Grand Montreal, held
a concert called Destins Croises. The program included two movements of
Dvorak's "New World Symphony" and pieces inspired by Innu poems and an
Ojibway song. The Orchestra was joined by Minda Forcier, a soprano of
Atikamekw heritage and Tara-Louise Montour, a Mohawk violinist.
Kontirennotatie, a Longhouse Women's chorus and Bob Bourdon added to the
evening with traditional chants.

The one-of-a-kind musical performance celebrated the Amerindian themes
which have inspired modern Canadian music.