Aboriginal Day a time to celebrate

EDITORIAL: On top of Father's Day, today is also National Aboriginal Day

Yes today is Father’s Day and it’s a time to recognize all of those dads out there. But there is also another significant milestone today and that is National Aboriginal Day.

First marked in 1996, it is, according to a federal website, “a special day to celebrate the unique heritage, diverse cultures and outstanding achievements of First Nations, Inuit and Metis peoples in Canada.”

And that is certainly the case here in our region as both the Okanagan and Shuswap nations have rich cultures that go back thousands of years. From them, we embrace place names for our geographical features and communities, while their knowledge of the environment around us is vast. But more importantly, they are our neighbours — we work side by side, go to school together or, in some cases, share family roots.

And the links are strengthening as Vernon’s future is partially tied to potential industrial land through the Okanagan Indian Band, while the Splatsin and adjacent jurisdictions pursue a rail corridor for long-term economic benefits.

It should also be pointed out that members of various nations from across Canada also live here and add to its diversity.

Beyond all of this, Aboriginal Day is also a time for broader society to reflect on the past wrongs inflicted on our First Peoples and to recognize the vast challenges that still exist, including poverty, education and violence.

Today is a day for all of us, no matter our ancestry, to reflect on our community and the cultures and individuals who call it home. We need to find a way to bring ourselves closer together so everyone can achieve their ultimate dreams.

Happy Aboriginal Day.