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National Indigenous Peoples Day occurs amid rising awareness of Indigenous culture

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National Indigenous Peoples Day is coming up on June 21st, and will be celebrated at Participark in Timmins.

Tristan Ahishkeesh is vice-chair of the Timmins Indigenous Organizations Committee. He says the day begins with a sunrise ceremony at 5:30am, along with the lighting of the Sacred Fire.  It continues all day.

Ahishkeesh says anyone from any culture is welcome, and has the opportunity to raise their own awareness by talking to the First Nations represented there and their elders.

“Go up to them, talk to them, engage with them,” he recommends. “Ask them about their life. See what changes they have seen growing up, especially living within the city of Timmins and you’ll be surprised at what you hear.”

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The positive side of the discovery of so many residential school graves the past year is the increased interest in Indigenous culture.

Ahishkeesh is also executive director of the Ojibway and Cree Cultural Centre. He says each new discovery provides the impact all over again to Indigenous communities. He also calls it an ongoing rude awakening for Canadians.

“So I would say that there is a huge amount of support from Canadians of all nations. It’s beautiful to see, but we still can’t let that flame die out. We’ve got to keep it going. We’re still not done.”

Click on this link for the program for Indigenous Peoples Day.

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