In Canada, the month of June is National Aboriginal History Month. June 21, the first day of summer, is recognized as National Aboriginal Day, a special time to honour and celebrate our aboriginal peoples: First Nations, Inuit and Metis.
As I think of this years aboriginal day, the total acceptance, warmth and hospitality my wife and I enjoyed during our time in the Inuit territories of Nunavik and Nunavut and the Cree village of Whapmagoostui between 2007 and 2014, remains fresh in my mind.
In Quaqtaq, we were eagerly invited to share in the community freezer as soon as we arrived. The community freezer was supplied with hunted food supplies paid for by the Municipal office. Supplies at the freezer varied with ample supplies of arctic char, lake trout, caribou sometimes and sometimes nothing at all. Nevertheless, this situation was no deterrent to our open invitation to partake. It was an honour system and in spite of recurrent scarcity, no one took more than was required.
While Whapmagoostui had no community freezer, the sense of hospitality was generally the same. During the goose hunting season, we received fresh and roasted goose from our Cree friends. Among the Cree, laughter was in no short supply and it was in their arena that I learned to skate without ever paying a dime.
As I often share with our customers at Northern Expressions, in showcasing aboriginal art, we strive to maintain an environment and tradition of warmth and friendliness in serving our customers. For us, the art we showcase projects the creativity, resourcefulness and resilience of our First Peoples.
Happy National Aboriginal Day 2017!