National Indigenous Peoples Day is an opportunity to learn more about the Indigenous communities in your area, and to participate in their incredibly rich and diverse culture. It is a time for celebration, ceremony, and unity across the country.

But National Indigenous Peoples Day is more than a celebration. It is a reminder that Indigenous Peoples are still faced with incredible challenges from a colonial past and are striving to reclaim their identity, lands, and inherent rights.

Last year we witnessed history when the BC Government enacted the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples as law. This was a major first step in strengthening and rebuilding relationships with Indigenous people as well as acknowledging their inherent rights to self-determination.

Reconciliation through education is something that begins—but does not end—in our post-secondary institutions. It is our responsibility to share our knowledge and stand in solidarity with Indigenous Peoples to help eliminate racism and prejudices they face on a daily basis. It is important that we follow the lead of Indigenous Peoples and work together to make significant and positive changes for future generations.

Learn more about Indigenous culture and colonial history in Canada. Try reading First Nations 101 by Lynda Gray, or Indian Horse by Richard Wagamese (it’s also been adapted into a movie). Consider also donating to the BC Association of Aboriginal Friendship Centres; it’s a great organisation that uses funds to support friendship centres all over BC, to help give support to Indigenous people who are living off reserve.