Indigenous Hamilton community members gathered in front of city hall on Tuesday to celebrate Independence Day Indigenous People’s Day for the first time since before the pandemic.
Celebrations included music and speeches by local elders, including discussions about how Hamilton has come to recognize truth and reconcile in recent years.
Last year, the city council officially confirmed Urban Indigenous Strategy (UIS), which aims to strengthen the city’s relationship with the Indigenous community and promote a better understanding by all residents of Indigenous history, culture, experiences and contributions .
Marilyn Wright, chair of the city’s Indigenous Advisory Committee, said the strategy has empowered the commission to do things they “never thought possible”.
“We can make our own decisions, at some point,” she said. “We never felt like we could do it before. And we are more than just a token committee for the city. They allow us, strategically, to make strides in the things that are important to the Indigenous community of the city of Hamilton. ”
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The ceremony also heard from Nathan Muir, a bi-spiritual and non-binary member of the Mohawk Nation, who spoke about the importance of emotions – especially anger – that many people have been feeling for several years. passed for a number of reasons.
“With anger, we always have two choices – we can hold onto it, let it motivate us, and use it to overcome any obstacle. But we tend to forget that path that we sometimes lose ourselves along the way in that anger, and we become that angry spirit.
“The choice that remains is to let it go and move forward. And while that may be fine in some cases, it is sometimes not the recommended course of action. “
“Nevertheless, neither of these options is a right or wrong answer because the Creator has given us that choice.. ”
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Norma Jacobs, Onkwehowe, Wolf Clan of the Cayuga Nation, and from the Six Nations of the Grand River, were keynote speakers for the event.
She shared her experiences and thoughts on what it means to be reconciled in a moving speech with those gathered in the previous area.
“I don’t think there can be reconciliation, because we continue to think that someone is greater than us,” she said.
“How can we do it is to recover our values, to look at our values, and what does it mean to share? You know, what does it mean to give someone something without expecting anything in return? What does caring for your elderly mean? What does it mean to care for children and give them shelter? ”
Shelly Hill, director of Indigenous Relations for the city of Hamilton, concluded the official statement of the event with a reminder of why these gatherings are so important.
“Today we honor, recognize and honor us as Indigenous. Today as a reminder of our strength and resilience; years of oppression, and generational trauma; the disposition of the land, the residential school system, and the discovery that our children did not return to the fires in their homes. We honor you. ”
The Hamilton sign in front of town hall is illuminated in white, yellow, red and black to mark Indigenous Peoples Day.
On July 1, it will be lit in orange in honor of the children, families and survivors of Canada’s residential school system.
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