National Indigenous Peoples Day is a celebration of the diverse original cultures of Turtle Island. This year, it’s especially poignant as we mourn the discovery of 215 children who died at Kamloops Indian Residential School. As more of these discoveries are made, our nation must come to terms with how it has failed Indigenous Peoples, and our responsibility as non-Indigenous people to help dismantle the legacy of colonialism.

 

In collaboration with Indigenous stakeholders, United Way Centraide Canada is laying the foundation for building an Indigenous Collaboration Strategy and has released statements that express our commitments to Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion and Indigenous Reconciliation. This is only the beginning of our efforts on this front, as we walk a new path forward. Meanwhile, from coast to coast to coast, United Way Centraide’s work with local Indigenous communities to uphold traditions and support Indigenous families. Here are some of those stories.

Sewing Together in Labrador
Mary Jane is a client of the Nukum Munik Shelter, from the Sheshatshiu First Nation in northern Labrador. The Nukum Munik shelter is a safe place for women and children fleeing domestic abuse that offers a variety of programs and classes as part of their work to help uplift and strengthen their community.
One of the programs that the shelter runs is “Sewing Together and Healing the Hurt.” The program teaches women of the community how to sew and to be able to make their own traditional clothing for ceremonies and other events.

 

Mary Jane told us about her experience with the program: “I like to wear traditional clothes when we do ceremonies, or we go to a wedding or other events here in the community. I used to have [an outfit] many years ago, but I can’t use it anymore. Thanks to the sewing classes I have learned how to make many different things like skirts, vests, tea dolls, quilting, native gloves and native boots. I have made plenty of things for my family, the house, and myself. I enjoy sewing now. When I am bored, I get together with other women and we sew in a group. I am teaching other women too. I am very happy and proud of all the things that I am making.”

Mary Jane_NIPD-blog post feature

 

Check out more of our favourite stories for National Indigenous People’s Day!

1. Theresa volunteers to help local Indigenous youth like Rose
2. How healing lodges help Indigenous women rebuild their lives
3. Indigenous teens are fighting back against the opioid crisis
4. An Elder’s truth on reconciliation: Dr. Reg Crowshoe on the way forward
5. Indigenous COVID-19 Task Force helping the most vulnerable