June 20, 2014

The following is being distributed at the request of the Human Rights Commission:

National Aboriginal Day

The Newfoundland and Labrador Human Rights Commission recognizes National Aboriginal Day which is celebrated on June 21. First established in 1996, National Aboriginal Day recognizes the unique heritage, diverse cultures and outstanding contributions of Canada’s First Nations, Inuit and Metis peoples.

The commission supports the work of provincial Aboriginal groups and appreciates the importance of the celebrations and other activities that are taking place across Newfoundland and Labrador. All Newfoundlanders and Labradorians are encouraged to participate in these worthwhile events.

Celebrations for National Aboriginal Day will be held across Newfoundland and Labrador to honour the rich and diverse culture of the Aboriginal people in this province. These are listed below:

  • The St. John’s Native Friendship Centre is hosting a full day of activities including a Sunrise Ceremony followed by a traditional breakfast, opening ceremony including drum performances, activities for adults and kids and a traditional feast.
  • The Qalipu Mi’kmaq First Nations Band is celebrating in Corner Brook with a “Day in the Park” at the Margaret Bowater Park including games, entertainment and a Sunrise Ceremony.
  • In Natuashish the Mushuau Innu First Nation is hosting activities such as canoe racing, traditional clothing contest, traditional games as well as traditional drum dancing and singing.
  • Celebrations in Sheshatshiu run from Thursday to Saturday. These include entertainment, games, barbecues and fireworks.

The Human Rights Act, 2010 protects Aboriginal persons from discrimination based on race, ancestry, sex and the other characteristics outlined in the act. This protection applies to employment, housing, public services, certain associations and publications, provided the issue falls under provincial jurisdiction.

Many complaints made by Aboriginal persons fall under federal jurisdiction and should be filed through the Canadian Human Rights Commission in Ottawa. Staff at the commission in Newfoundland and Labrador can answer questions on jurisdiction.

Setting aside a day for Aboriginal Peoples is part of the wider recognition of their important place within the fabric of Canada and their ongoing contributions as First Peoples. As former Governor General Adrienne Clarkson said, “It is an opportunity for all of us to celebrate our respect and admiration for First Nations, for Inuit, for Metis – for the past, the present and the future.”

National Aboriginal Day is part of the annual nation-wide Celebrate Canada which also includes St-Jean Baptiste Day (June 24), Canadian Multiculturalism Day (June 27) and concluding with Canada Day (July 1).

For more information on the Human Rights Commission, please visit www.thinkhumanrights.ca.EXTERNAL

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Media contact:
Carey Majid
Executive Director, Human Rights Commission

2014 06 20                                        10:50 a.m.