June 21st is National Aboriginal Day in Canada. Though not an official holiday, some people believe it should be.
The first peoples to inhabit the land now known as Canada are varied in language and culture. They are generally identified by three categories: First Nations, Inuit and Metis. There are several other distinct groups within and beyond these categories.
Originally, the Indigenous people of this land were called Indians. European explorers, intent on capitalizing on the spice trade, were looking for a quicker route to Asia. Upon arriving in what would become Canada, they came across people with darker skin and assumed they were in India; hence, the name Indian to describe these people. Only in recent history has there been a concerted effort to use a more appropriate and respectful name. Aboriginal, Indigenous and First Nations have been used with the last term being used generally for the first peoples of Canada.
Did you know…? The meaning behind the phrase “low man on the totem pole” shows ignorance of the cultural meaning of this position. In Pacific Northwest culture, the “low man on the totem pole” signifies the strength and importance of the person who forms the foundation of the totem pole and society.
Every province and territory has local First Nations groups. Include an experience with the people and their culture when visiting this country.
Aboriginal Day on Canadian government website: