By Rev. Dr. Danny Zacharias, Associate Professor of New Testament Studies, Acadia Divinity College
I have a good friend and he has a bit of a motto – celebrate everything! What this equates to in his family is celebrating in some way all the national or international food days. For instance, on July 20 his family will no doubt have hot dogs for dinner, as it is national hot dog day. The celebration is good natured, even if it sometimes results in donuts for dinner.
Days of celebration, days of commemoration, days of reflection, days of mourning — all of these are forms of culture building. In terms of commemoration, there are many important and commemorative days in Canada. Some commemorations are singular days, or month-long recognitions of particular events or distinctive cultural communities. These provide reminders for us of the beautiful cultural mosaic that is Canada. June is a month to recognize the heritage of several cultural communities in Canada. In particular, June is National Indigenous History Month, a chance for us to take in cultural events in our area, and a chance to further educate ourselves on Indigenous history and current matters in Canada. For these lands now called Canada, the commemoration of Indigenous History and Indigenous peoples is particularly important, as they are the original inhabitants of these lands. It is their history which stretches back thousands of years, and it is their cultural memory that resides here. Despite colonial attempts to wipe out their histories through dispossessing them of land, assimilation policies, and cultural genocide, they are resilient people who are still here. And as Canada continues to be confronted with past atrocities and present unjust realities, it is important for God’s people to learn from our shared history, and to honour the original peoples. June 21 provides an opportunity for churches to annually remember the history of their locations, the realities of our shared past, and reminding us to educate ourselves, learn about the Indigenous peoples of Canada, and celebrate their culture and resiliency.