Hundreds gather in Fredericton, N.B. for National Indigenous Peoples Day
HALIFAX -- Honouring Indigenous children whose lives were lost at residential schools was a big part of the National Indigenous Peoples Day in Fredericton on Monday.
Discussions centered on ally-ship and how Maritimers can work together to support their Indigenous communities.
"I think Indigenous people have our many battles to deal with, so if you're going to aid somebody in their battles then you're going to assist them and try to be Indigenous led and not try to take a leadership role. I think that's the most important thing to remember,” said Nipahtuwet Naka Wespahtuwet Possesom
For the Wolastoqey traditional Grand Chief, Monday is not about celebrating, but remembering.
"This is more of a reminder to the rest of Canada that the atrocities that's been occurring... So, it's not so much a celebration to me as it is to educate people," said Ron Tremblay.
Flags of First Nations were raised at the New Brunswick legislature for National Indigenous Peoples Day, but some say there is still work to be done.
"The government wants to be allies but I’m not sure they're there yet. They get into politics and they get into the legislative building because of you, because of all of you that vote for them and in order to ensure that they're hearing my voice and your voice and the children's voices is they have to be allies with us," said Allan Polchies, the chief St. Mary’s First Nation.
More than 150 Indigenous people and allies attended the event in New Brunswick’s capital Monday – with a lot of the discussion centered on why it was important to be there.
"Especially as white people it's important to be here to learn, to educate ourselves and to make efforts towards reconciliation in anyway we can and part of doing that work is showing up," said Kaelyn Merrithew.
The Wolastoqey Tribal Council is hoping to see more people call themselves allies in the future.
"We've noticed a shift in the political climate lately. There seems to be a lot of awareness growing about Indigenous issues and more people wanting to come out and help but not being comfortable asking difficult questions or knowing necessarily where to go for information," said Megan Fullarton.
The Wolastoqey Nation in New Brunswick launched an Ally Tool Kit on their website.