National Indigenous Peoples Day

Jun 20, 2024

June 21 is National Indigenous Peoples Day (NIPD), an important occasion to honor and learn about the history, culture, and contributions of L’nu people, and the Indigenous, Inuit and Metis peoples who have made the lands we know as Canada their home since time immemorial.

In Nova Scotia, NIPD is an opportunity for us all to acknowledge and reflect upon the fact we live on a portion of Mi’kma’ki, the ancestral, unceded territory of the Mi’kmaw Nation, which is governed by the Treaties of Peace and Friendship.  

Despite the commitments made by our forebearers, the pursuit of colonialism resulted in stolen lands, cultural genocide and oppression that served to advance the lives of settlers at the expense of all L’nu people. It is in the context of this history that the Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission seeks to address persistent, systemic, and institutionalized discrimination resulting from the ideals of white supremacy. We recognize the intergenerational impacts of the historic and ongoing injustices against L’nu, and the resulting privileges of those who continue to benefit from these offences.

The Commission honours and embraces Mi’kmaw wisdom such as Msit No’kmaq – meaning all my relations - which values the inherent interconnectivity of all things, as we strive to foster relationships based on respect for one another’s inherent dignity.

In 2022, the Commission presented the inaugural Wel-lukwen Award. Individuals and groups from Mi’kmaq and Indigenous communities across the region have relentlessly dedicated their efforts to attaining a just, equitable and inclusive society. This work includes protecting culture, traditions and championing diverse issues of discrimination, advancing access to justice for all and promoting awareness around racial harmony and reconciliation. These efforts are worthy and deserving of recognition. 

The name of this annual award, Wel-lukwen (Well-loog-wen) is a Mi’kmaw term. The Commission consulted with Mi’kmaw language knowledge keepers on whether there would be a phrase that would capture the essence of this award. Wel-lukwen loosely translates to “Congratulations, you are doing extremely well. Your work does not go unrecognized.”

I encourage members of the public to consider nominating an L’nu individual, group or organization for the 2024 Wel-lukwen Award. Nominations are now open and can be submitted quickly and easily using this online form.

By coming together on National Indigenous Peoples Day, we are invited to better understand and celebrate Indigenous traditions, teachings, language, and art. This knowledge and the relationships we foster in the process will cultivate mutual respect, cultural awareness and appreciation of one another’s lived experiences and shared pursuit of safety and security for our loved ones, friends and neighbours.

The preceding is a statement from Joseph Fraser, Director & CEO of the Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission.