By Nathan White (@Nathanwhitendw)
If you are not involved in the aboriginal community it can be easy to miss their presence all around us, in addition to their rich history in Toronto. Many know, for example, that Ontario comes from the Huron Language meaning “Great Lake”, but not everyone knows that Toronto comes from the word for “Narrows,” likely named as such because of Humber River feeding from Lake Ontario and flowing up to Lake Simcoe. It was later stylized in Mohawk, translating to “where there are trees standing in the water.” It is a word we use every day and most don’t know the meaning behind it.
Humber College North sits right beside the Humber River which has provided life and nourishment for the Huron-Wednat, the six nations of the Grand River and Mississauga peoples. Last Tuesday, June 21st, if you were up early enough, there were many sunrise ceremonies held across Canada. Notably, ones in Ottawa and Toronto visited by John Tory and Justin Trudeau. They are small symbols of a national celebration that is 20 years old. National Aboriginal Day has become a day for celebration and reflection.
The Native Canadian Centre of Toronto, for example, had a BBQ celebration at Balfour Park that was open to the public. And last Thursday at noon there was an Aboriginal History Month Celebration that took place at Yonge and Dundas Square.
National Aboriginal Day brings to light a lot of questions (many call for the day to become a statutory holiday, for instance). For a day that largely features politicians posing for photos, the relationship between some First Nations members and the Canadian government is strained, but this event helps bring some of Canada’s longstanding issues to the forefront of Canadian consciousness.
The fact remains, it is a day the helps represent important historical Canadian cultures and peoples.