By Marcelo Kawanami, post suggested by Suzanne from Kawartha Lakes Mums
National Aboriginal Awareness Month is recognized by the federal government every June
in an effort to celebrate the contributions of Indigenous peoples in Canada. During the month of June, Aboriginal history is brought to the forefront in Canada. It is a month for aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people to reflect upon the history, sacrifices, contributions, culture and strength of First Nations, Inuit and Metis people. Thus, we could not forget to write a post regarding this special month that has just passed, once the First Nations have a direct link to the history of the Kawartha Lakes.
“Kawartha” is an Anglicization of the word “Ka-wa-tha” (from “Ka-wa-tae-gum-maug” or Gaa-waategamaag), a word coined in 1895 by aboriginal Martha Whetung of the Curve Lake First Nations. It was hoped that the word, which meant “land of reflections” in the Anishinaabe language, would provide a convenient and popular advertising label for the area, much as “Muskoka” had come to describe the area and lakes north of Gravenhurst. The word was subsequently changed by tourism promoters to Kawartha, with the meaning “bright waters and happy lands.”
According to the last report from Statistics Canada, 1.9% (1,385) of the population of Kawartha Lakes had an Aboriginal identity. Aboriginal Peoples of those, 47.7% (660) reported a First Nations identity Aboriginal Peoples only, 43.3% (600) reported a Métis identity only, and 5.4% (75) reported an Inuit identity only. An additional 35, or 2.5%, reported other Aboriginal identities.
Indigenous peoples are caretakers of Mother Earth and realize and respect her gifts of water, air and fire. First Nations peoples’ have a special relationship with the earth and all living things in it. This relationship is based on a profound spiritual connection to Mother Earth that guided indigenous peoples to practice reverence, humility and reciprocity. It is also based on the subsistence needs and values extending back thousands of years. We should all celebrate and recognize the importance First Nations every day of the year!