Celebrating National Indigenous Peoples Day with Woodland Cultural Centre

BRANTFORD – June 21st is National Indigenous Peoples Day. As many other groups and organizations are, Woodland Cultural Centre is celebrating virtually this year.

The specially designated day is marked across Canada with celebrations, activities, and education about the culture of the First Nations, Inuit, and Metis people.

Marketing Coordinator at the Woodland Cultural Centre, Layla Black, says the organization had big plans and many events originally planned for the weekend, including commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Mohawk Residential School closure, but unfortunately had to move all events online.

“We got creative. We wanted to make sure there was still a lot going on and still ways to offer education and awareness about indigenous history and the background and backbone of this country, says Black. “We’re really excited that we have the director, Sara Roque of ‘6 Miles Deep’, which is a documentary based right here on Six Nations about the Haldimand Treaty.”

Black adds, Roque will be introducing the film to be shown at 7 PM and providing a Q&A live on Zoom. The Zoom registration link is available on the Woodland Cultural Centre’s Facebook page. Participation is free.

“It’s all about the protest that happened right here in Caledonia,” Black explains. “The thing I love about the film is that it focusses on the strength of the women, the clan mothers, and the females that lead that protest and their commitment to protecting the land.”

Save the Evidence Campaign Coordinator, Karley Gallant-Jenkins says they are close to their goal of $23.5 million dollars required to complete a portion of the project but they hope to raise even further awareness and funds this weekend.

The campaign aims to record and preserve the stories of survivors of the Mohawk Institute Residential School, as well as develop the building into an interpretive historical site and educational resource.

“We successfully raised $12 million. We have pending funding for $11 million,” Gallant-Jenkins says. “So potentially we only need to raise another $500 000. That includes the brick preservation, the interpretation installation, the general reopening, and the endowment fund.”

Gallant-Jenkins also says they were initially hoping to reopen the school as a historical site at the end of this month, to mark the 50th anniversary of the school closure in 1970. Restrictions imposed due to the COVID-19 pandemic have delayed the reopening.