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Aboriginal History Month

For the week of Monday May 30, 2011

On June 4, 2009, the Government of Canada declared the month of June to be Aboriginal History Month. This follows the creation of Aboriginal History Month in Saskatchewan in June 2007, and the naming of June 21 as National Aboriginal Day in 1996. The latter is a day dedicated to the celebration of the culture and heritage of Canada’s Aboriginal peoples.

Waapushukamikw
© La carriere Rogers Quartzite boulders on the slope of the hill / Jean Gagnon
There are many noteworthy First Nations, Métis and Inuit people, places and events in Canadian history. Among those who have been designated as National Historic Persons are strong leaders such as Thayendanega (Joseph Brant), who advocated for the sovereignty of his people. Others include artists and writers who are remembered for their contributions to their fields, such as artist and photographer Peter Pitseolak. National Historic Sites related to Aboriginal history include Batoche, Saskatchewan, where the final battle in the Rebellion/Resistance of 1885 took place, and Nan Sdins, a former Haida village in British Columbia that is also part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site. More recently, Waapushukamikw, a major Quebec quartzite quarry site and a place of spiritual significance and memory, was designated as a National Historic Site.

The Government of Canada recognizes the importance of these people and places. Parks Canada has been actively increasing the number of historic designations relating to Aboriginal history, as detailed in its National Historic Sites of Canada System Plan. An Approach to Aboriginal Cultural Landscapes explains special qualities that are often associated with sites that have deep meaning to Aboriginal peoples, while Parks Canada's Aboriginal Affairs Secretariat supports increasing the number of designations that illustrate Aboriginal history, and the presentation and interpretation of Aboriginal heritage.

Many past This Week in History stories have focused on people, places and events related to Aboriginal history. For example, A Voice of Sovereignty Dies and A Great Inuit Artist and Photographer commemorate Thayendanega and Peter Pitseolak respectively, while The Signing of the Gwaii Haanas Agreement outlines the events surrounding Nan Sdins.

These, along with Ambassadress of Peace, the Battle of Duck Lake: A Struggle for Land and a Way of Life, the Birth of a Pioneer in Canadian Poetry, Chief Membertou: The Great Captain, Chief Peguis: A Friend to the Selkirk Settlement, Death of Shanawdithit and the Beothuk, and Misto-ha-a-Musqua: Last Chief of the Free Plains Cree are among the stories relating to Aboriginal history that can be found in the This Week in History archives.

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