Markham celebrates National Indigenous Peoples Day

The City of Markham celebrated National Indigenous Peoples Day on June 21 with an event that included a flag-raising ceremony at Markham Civic Centre.

The celebration, which included a land acknowledgement, began with Mayor Frank Scarpitti making a tobacco offering to young elder Veronica Johnny, a member of the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation.

In turn, she presented the mayor with a sweet grass braid, which “teaches us about community, family and teamwork,” she said. “One person can do a lot, but when we have a community, family and teamwork, together we are stronger.”

For generations, many Indigenous groups and communities have celebrated their culture and heritage on June 21 or around that time of year because of the significance of the summer solstice as the longest day of the year. National Aboriginal Day, now National Indigenous Peoples Day, was announced in 1996 by then Governor General of Canada Roméo LeBlanc.

Scarpitti acknowledged the day being about history and celebration of Indigenous culture and people. He referenced Markham’s path to reconciliation, noting its partnership with Eabametoong First Nation and the Aaniin Community Centre, home to the Anwebi Aki sculptures, which represent the Seven Grandfather Teachings. In March, Markham hosted the 50th anniversary of the Little Native Hockey League Tournament, Cultural Festival and Gala Celebration.

Johnny performed several Indigenous songs with Matt Bergman and Ashley Bergman from the Indigenous Action Committee. The event concluded with the raising of the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation Flag.

Photo from the National Indigenous Peoples Day event at Markham Civic Centre courtesy of the City of Markham.

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