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National Indigenous Peoples Day observed in Windsor

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National Indigenous Peoples Day was celebrated in Windsor on Friday with several events and ceremonies across the community.

Every year on June 21, Canada observes National Indigenous Peoples Day as a celebration of the diverse cultures and history of First Nations, Inuit, and Metis people of Canada.

Early in the day, Windsor police officers joined community leaders to raise the Anishinabek flag outside police headquarters before Eagle Staff Carrier "Stirs The Fire" Steve Mull performed a morning smudging and water ceremony at Windsor Public Library.

"When we get together for ceremony, it's a unity thing where everyone comes and stands within a circle and no one is above anyone. No one is below anyone, we're all the same people," Mull explained.

At Art Windsor Essex (AWE), students saw traditional dance along with two exhibits featuring the work of First Nations artists, which are on display until Sept. 22.

"It's an honour to have your work at any an art gallery as an artist," said photographer Shayenna Nolan. "And it's great that the work that I have just represents the people."

Nolan continued, "There is a big educational piece in this city when it comes to the history of Indigenous peoples, and it's been nice to see the ripple effect that that's had, and to have people come in and really learn about that."

AWE Head of Programs and Projects Julie Tucker said efforts are underway to increase the amount of Indigenous art available to see at the gallery.

"We're hoping to build a collection with other artists from the local First Nations community," said Tucker.

National Indigenous Peoples Day was observed in Windsor on June 21, 2024. (Chris Campbell/CTV News Windsor)

"Indigenous art has been under-recognized within public art galleries," Tucker told CTV News. "It's really only recently that even artists from local communities have been able to show in galleries, actually. It makes less than 5 per cent of our collection, is indigenous art from First Nations people. So it's a very low percentage of everything we own. So we're working to change that."

At Mic Mac Park, the Can-Am Urban Native Non-Profit Homes, University of Windsor Aboriginal Education Centre, and Ska:na Family Learning Centre put on their annual lunchtime barbeque featuring entertainment and games for children.

"Today's all about community and reconnecting," said Eric Hill, executive director of Can-Am Urban Native Non-Profit Homes.

"I think it's always about reconciliation and coming together and realizing how far we've come and how far we still have to go," Hill stated. "The legacy of residential schools is always there and rebuilding those family relationships, those community relationships, I think are very important. How far we have to go is [finishing] the job. I mean, we've gotten a lot of those reconciliation points or calls to action and there's only been a few of them that have had some work on them. It's a work in progress."

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