Celebrating living heritage, honouring the past: National Aboriginal Day

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Kate Aley

Logo of the First Nations tribe in the Municipality of Pontiac.

June 21 is Canada's National Aboriginal Day (NAD), created to recognize the history, culture and contributions of First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples. According to the Indigenous and Northern Affairs page of Canada.ca website, the Canadian Constitution recognizes these three groups as Aboriginal peoples, also known as Indigenous Peoples.

Pontiac 2020.ca asked Quyon's Garry Belair, Chief White Owl, now in his fifth year of leadership of the Pontiac Algonkin Outaouais tribe, to explain the significance of the day.


Garry Belair, Chief White Owl with two moose-hide drums

P2020.ca: What does NAD symbolize?

Garry Belair: It was created to recognize the First Nations' contributions to this country and all that indigenous people did for Canada. 

P2020.ca: Why isn't NAD more widely known?

GB: It was something kept hush-hush for a long time. Before 1996, people weren't declaring themselves to be aboriginal [if they lived] off reserve. You weren't talking about it. It's just that there was a bad reputation about native people. Other people in Canada used to think of them as people on welfare, abusing the system, free-loading on the government.


The feather is a deeply siginificant symbol for First Nations.

P2020.ca: What has changed?

GB: Now with the revelations from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), we know what happened to the native people [in an attempt] to abolish them. They recognize it more, the rights of native people. The [findings from] the TRC were a big part of the recognition of the native people. Now a lot of people are going to the "red road", that's what we call it, seeking spiritual guidance from the First Nations culture. People are really seeking it [...] both non-native people and native people [who don't know about their native background]. We've been doing a lot of research, [making] family trees. People want to find out their roots, it's something to be proud of now.


Beautiful skies for the summer solstice

P2020.ca: Personally, how do you see Aboriginal Day?

GB: It's a day of thinking about our elders, thanking them for what they did for us and for what we have today. It's also a way to say thank you to the greater spirits for what they have given us. The 21st of June is the longest day of the year; that's why they gave us that day [for the NAD], because we always used to use that day for our celebrations.

Today there will be a spiritual ceremony on Victoria Island. There's always a big ceremony there, every different tribe comes to celebrate in their own way; smudging, drumming to celebrate that day. We thank Mother Earth and Father sun, because we are grateful for what they've given us.

Nos autres nouvelles / Our other News

Another community hub lost: Depanneur Poirier closes down

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Kate Aley

Depanneur Poirier, at the intersection of the highway and Ch. des Pères-Dominicains, has closed. The last day of business was Thursday 22 but the owners, Janet and Jack Deschenes have been emptying shelves for weeks.

Bunny fun: Luskville playgroup celebrates Easter

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Kate Aley

Spring is here we're told, but it's still so gray and cold outside. Where can you take your under 5's when you have exhausted all the DVD options? To the free playgroup in Luskville, of course.

Above from left, Comité 0-5 animator Lisa Corrigan with personal friend Helga the rabbit and an ardent admirer at the Luskville playgroup's Easter event.

Walk right in: renovations to Family Centre ensure better, safer service

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Kate Aley

Better than a new welcome mat, a shining floor now greets visitors to the Maison de la Famille in Quyon, thanks to funding from the Ministère de la Famille. A new epoxy surface was poured last week, creating a seamless floor running though out the reception area, the Clothing Counter, kitchen and laundry.

André Fortin nominated as Liberal candidate for Pontiac

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Kate Aley

The auditorium of Onslow Elementary School was filled with supporters of MNA for Pontiac André​ Fortin on Saturday March 10. The gathering marked the re-nomination of Fortin to represent the Liberal party in the upcoming provincial elections. Community members, councilors for the Municipality of Pontiac and MRC Pontiac mayors and wardens, both past and present, were in attendance.

Community coffee: church offers warm drinks and warm reception

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Kate Aley

It is indisputably still cold outside, baby.  Éric Hébert-Daly, the new student minister at Quyon United Church, has a new idea to warm all of us up. 

On Monday 12, and on every Monday from now, Hébert-Daly will be opening the doors of the church at 1088 Clarendon Street in Quyon (next to the Post Office) between 7 p.m. and 9 p.m. to offer warm drinks at no charge.

Riding in style: massive upgrade to Pontiac bus route

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Kate Aley

It's smooth and it's quiet with internet access, a 36" flat screen TV and reclining seats and it leaves Allumette Island at 10 minutes to 5 am every day. This is the new coach that runs Route 148 and you can be on it. This week, riders taking the Campeau Bus Line to the city were treated to a brand-new luxury coach, a demonstration vehicle in service before the permanent vehicle becomes available in about a weeks time.

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