June is National Aboriginal Heritage Month

St. Nicholas CES recognizes Indigenous lands at Blessing Ceremony for its new outdoor classroom

National Aboriginal Day is celebrated in Canada on June 21st. YCDSB also recognizes June as National Aboriginal History Month. The history of Aboriginal peoples in Canada is rich and diverse. It is the history of the cultures and communities of people who lived here long before the arrival of European newcomers, and others from around the world.

During National Aboriginal History Month, and always, it is important to recognize that Indigenous people continue to play an important role in the development Canada and its future. It is also a time to acknowledge the injustices of the past and to work hand-in-hand to bring communities and people closer to forgiveness and reconciliation. This process begins with encouraging a greater awareness and understanding of our Indigenous brothers and sisters and compels us all to build stronger communities that at one with the Creator.

On June 9th, the St. Nicholas Catholic Elementary school community in Newmarket gathered to bless its new two outdoor classrooms, which features two teepees, wooden stump seating ingrained with the Seven Grandfather teachings, and a mulched natural playground area.

At the ceremony, Father Efren Alvarez of St. John Chrysostom Parish blessed the outdoor space, and Oneida Artist and Knowledge Keeper, Todd Jamieson, and Aboriginal Artist, John Somosi led a traditional Indigenous smudging and drumming ceremony. Principal Deirdre Vance read the Board’s Land Agreement at the ceremony, which recognizes the land that the school was built on as Indigenous lands. Newmarket Deputy Mayor, John Taylor recounted stories about 17th Century longhouses that used to exist “just up the road from the school,” and school board officials delivered brief speeches that paid tribute to the land’s heritage.

Following the ceremony, students shared artwork they made themed on “Celebrating Creation.”

St. Nicholas CES thanks its many community partners that contributed to the building of its new outdoor space, especially, TD Friends of the Environment, Lake Simcoe Region Conservation Authority, Windfall Ecology, Green Communities Canada, RBC Blue Water Fund and the school’s Catholic School Council.