HALIFAX -- With Sunday being National Indigenous Peoples Day, Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil issued a statement in honour of Canada’s First Nations, Inuit and Métis communities.

During a time when conversations surrounding systemic racism and police brutality have been prevalent, McNeil noted while the day is a celebration, it’s also an opportunity to reflect on the experience of Indigenous people in Canada.

“The celebrations will be much different this year because of COVID-19, but the spirit and meaning of this important day are in no way diminished. In fact, given the experiences and tragedies in different parts of our country in recent months, this day takes on even more significance,” said McNeil in a statement on Sunday. “There have been many conversations about the sad reality that Indigenous people are still subject to racism, both systemic and overt. This is unacceptable and we all have a role to play in ensuring we have a fair and just society for all.”

McNeil said the province has committed to raising cultural awareness and understanding concerning Indigenous issues and culture.

“We continue to develop resources in our schools and have made the promotion of Mi’kmaw culture a major part of our Culture Action Plan,” said McNeil. “I am proud of how much we have achieved together to recognize the Mi’kmaw language, promote treaty education and celebrate Mi’kmaw culture and heritage, and I look forward to accomplishing much more.”

McNeil also made mention of the North American Indigenous Games, set to happen during the summer, but was postponed due to COVID-19.

“This celebration of sport and culture would have drawn more than 5,000 participants from across the continent to our province,” said McNeil. “While disappointing, we continue to work with the games’ host society on the way forward.”

The premier ended his statement by asking Nova Scotians to take an opportunity to reflect on Indigenous culture.

“In Nova Scotia, we recognize the importance of Mi’kmaw culture every day,” said McNeil. "On National Indigenous Peoples Day, let us all reflect on the contributions of Indigenous people across the country.”