Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau continues to show his strong support for First Nations culture and issues as he kicked off National Aboriginal Day by attending a dawn ceremony with Indigenous leaders at the Canadian Museum of History in Quebec.
Trudeau wore a buckskin jacket that was passed down from his father, former Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Elliot Trudeau, for the ceremony which began with a smudging ceremony, and included what looked to be a very peaceful paddle out on the Ottawa River which flows near Parliament Hill.
First Nations communities in Canada face very similar challenges and crises as Aboriginal Australia including high rates of suicide, poor education and struggling health services.
One of the first commitments made after Trudeau was sworn in to office was to improve the standard of living for all First Nations peoples and to work in partnership with community to make a real difference. These promises were again addressed through his official statement released on National Aboriginal Day.
"Together, we will think seven generations out — as the Iroquois have taught — as we listen to Indigenous voices on environmental matters, build necessary roads, bridges, and water and wastewater infrastructure, and ensure a better and brighter future for Indigenous peoples in Canada."
Similar to our own events held on the 26th January each year, for Indigenous peoples in Canada the day was one of reflection. For Anishinaabe artist ShoShona Kish, one half of Canadian band, Digging Roots, the day reminds her that there is still a lot of progress to be made.
"The day for me is about celebrating the resilience, strength and the beautiful and rich diversity of Indigenous cultures from Turtle Island. It's also a day about truth for me. A day of remembering what has happened to our people and witnessing what continues to happen to our people and this land which we are an inextricable part."
The husband and wife duo have just today released a new song 'AK-47' which touches on the issues of incarceration, missing and murdered Indigenous women and as a response to violence, in particular the recent events at Pulse nightclub in Orlando.
ShoShona says that National Aboriginal Day is a chance for celebration as well as a time for important issues to be addressed
"There's a lot of talk about truth and reconciliation going on here right now. I think we're still in the truth part of that. We're still working towards the truth in it's wholeness, not just in terms of history but the truth of how our people are living right now."
"There is gross injustice, ignorance and inequities at the heart of this system. Until we face that fact, we can't begin a true path to reconciliation. This day is an opportunity to be in that conversation."