Regional office marks National Aboriginal Day
Celebrating aboriginal culture, heritage
AMHERST - The region's rich aboriginal culture was celebrated here early Friday during National Aboriginal Day celebrations at the Indian and Northern Affairs Atlantic regional office.
"National Aboriginal Day is an opportunity for aboriginal people to express pride in their rich and diverse cultures and it is a time for Canadians to learn more about First Nation, Inuit and Metis peoples and their contribution to Canada," associate regional director general Dougal MacDonald said during a flag-raising ceremony to mark the occasion.
National Aboriginal Day was proclaimed 13 years ago and is held every June 21 because of the cultural significance of the day as the summer solstice, the first day of summer and the longest day of the year. It's also the time when many aboriginal groups celebrate their heritage.
MacDonald said the contributions of aboriginal people have had a huge influence on Canada's development, beginning with the first meetings between First Nations people and European newcomers.
"Many of our ancestors came from somewhere else and relied on the relationship with the aboriginal people who were here before us," MacDonald said. "We learned a great deal from them then and there is still so much to be learned."
He suggested all Canadians listen to what the aboriginal community is saying to learn more about shared history and commitments.
MacDonald hopes flying the aboriginal flag will spark interest in learning more about aboriginal history and culture.
Coun. George Baker said the day is important to celebrate and has become part of the fabric of Amherst. He also pointed out the presence of the regional office here has played a significant role in the community.
"Approximately 135 people are employed at the office and the town is very pleased to have the regional headquarters here and the employment opportunities it presents," Baker said. "We are also pleased to be able to learn more about the unique culture and history of the aboriginal community and the role they have played in our Cumberland County communities."
Coun. Ernest Gilbert from the Municipality of Cumberland said it's up to all Canadians to learn as much as they can about the aboriginal community.
"It's important that we learn as much as we can about ourselves in that we are happy with who we are, are pleased with who we are and respect who we are," he said. "It's important that we all work together so we can realize our aspirations and our hopes as we move forward."