Back to school 2019
La rentrée scolaire
by Isabel Mosseler
On Friday, June 21st, Nipissing First Nation held its Summer Solstice celebrations with a series of events and workshops geared towards the interests of their own community members. The day is designated in Canada as National Indigenous Peoples Day, but NFN took a local and personal approach rather than following a derivative agenda set by outside expectations of the community. Chief Scott McLeod indicated that there are many events that are shared with people from outside the community, providing non-indigenous people an opportunity to experience their culture and learn, but this day, Summer Solstice, would be geared towards the families of NFN.
“I was never a fan of the title of the day, National Indigenous Day. Really, it’s more of a personal day for us. We try to share most of our culture with everyone during the entire year,” said McLeod. “The solstice, which is what we were celebrating, is a traditional celebration of the beginning of the summer months which, in our history, was important to us, when we started to grow our sustenance for the entire year; a crucial time of the year for us. For us it was more of an inward reflection of who we are and what we’ve been through and the fact we’re still here and celebrating our culture. It was a more personal celebration for Nipissing. I understand people want to learn about our culture, and we have ways of doing that; things like pow wows. This day in particular is a celebration for us, for our own existence, and how we’ve managed to come through the other end of some very dark periods in our history, and overcome it. I just reiterated to the audience that it is our day to enjoy being ourselves.”
Gen Couchie, NFN’s Communications Officer, said that this year was focused on teachings that had particular relevance to the people of Nipissing, as they wanted to learn more about clan systems and sweat lodge. Couchie said the Culture & Heritage Department was working on a strategic plan around the issues of culture and language, and part of that was assuring the people had a celebration for themselves and the chance to explore “teachings that are specific to this community.” She said the day had a good turnout, close to 300 people, and the message delivered by Chief McLeod was short and to the point, “Enjoy this day, enjoy who you are.”
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Pictured above are students from Our Lady of Sorrows, who participated in NFN’s Summer Solstice celebration June 21. Photo submitted.
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