Hamilton and Mississauga were just two cities in Southern Ontario that put Indigenous people, culture and history on display for National Indigenous People’s Day on June 21.
Hamilton hosted an annual ceremony at City Hall on Wednesday featuring the Old Mush Singers from Six Nations.
Mayor Andrea Horwath, who was the first Hamilton mayor to ever attend Six Nations’ Bread and Cheese celebrations on Victoria Day, celebrated her first Indigenous People’s Day at City Hall by opening with a land acknowledgement.
“We have experienced Indigenous people’s tremendous resilience and strong leadership, particularly in this city and across this country,” she said. “We acknowledge their work that has shaped society that has inspired and influenced generation after generation. Today it’s an important day to celebrate and honour the past, present and future contributions and achievements of Indigenous peoples in Hamilton.”
She said non-Indigenous people needed to put more effort into learning the history of Indigenous people.
She also said the City of Hamilton needs to listen to Indigenous voices and respect their treaties to fulfill its obligations as an ally.
The city has developed an urban Indigenous strategy in an effort to strengthen its relationship with Indigenous people in the city.
The purpose of the strategy promotes a better understanding of the city’s Indigenous people and history among its residents.
The city has hired and implemented an Indigenous Relations Team to carry out the strategy. Hamilton also has an Indigenous Advisory Committee to educate and advise the city on Indigenous issues and concerns in the city.
“Today I invite all Hamiltonians to learn more about and reflect on how Indigenous people continue to shape our diverse city,” Mayor Horwath told her constituents.
The Old Mush Singers sang traditional Haudenosaunee songs and even one of their own they wrote to cap off the festivities.
In Mississauga, Celebration Square in the heart of the city showcased the culture and history of the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation with a powwow on the beautiful grounds, featuring drummers and dancers in traditional regalia, as well as a marketplace selling traditional Anishinaabe crafts and wares.