YWCA Hamilton Celebrates National Indigenous Peoples Day!

Quick escape link leading to Weather Network websiteQuick Escape YWCA Hamilton staff looking at the exhibition pieces at Art Gallery of Hamilton.

June is Indigenous History Month and June 21st is National Indigenous Peoples Day.

This month offers us an important opportunity to honour the contributions, traditions, and resilience of Indigenous communities. It also serves as a reminder of the importance of learning about and acknowledging the histories and cultures that have shaped our region.

Before the exhibit moved to the National Gallery in Ottawa, YWCA Hamilton staff were encouraged to attend a tour of Shelley Niro’s exhibition – “500  Year Itch” at the Art Gallery of Hamilton.

The Art Gallery of Hamilton website describes the exhibit as “Spanning four decades of her photography, film, painting, installation, sculpture and mixed media practice, the exhibition highlights themes she constantly returns to: Matriarchy, Past is Present, Actors, and Family Relations.”

Around thirty YWCA Hamilton staff joined Melissa, the Contemporary Art Curator at Art Gallery of Hamilton, to explore the original works of “Travelling Through” and “Wishing a River” and have a deeper look into Shelley’s extensive body of work, her inspirations, Indigenous world view and how her life experiences influence her art.

“My parents were craftspeople, meaning they made things, and they would go out and sell it at different places. And this influenced me quite a bit. I think it disciplined me, in such a way that you had to sit there and make something, and finish it,” Shelley said, in a previous interview with YWCA Hamilton.

This exhibit was also an opportunity to learn more about three of Shelley’s works which are in the lobby of the Putman Family YWCA.  The original “I Walk” and prints “Travelling Through” and “Wishing a River” are a beautiful addition to YWCA Hamilton’s home on Ottawa Street.

Kelley Evans, Uplift Program Coordinator at YWCA Hamilton, shared “It was such a great experience, to hear about Shelley’s work and have Melissa guide us through. To see the pieces that we have at Putman, and to be all together like this was a really special experience.”

To continue to honour our commitment to the Truth and Reconciliation Calls to Action and to provide engaging opportunities for our staff to learn about Indigenous culture and history, YWCA Hamilton’s staff were also encouraged to join three events at the Woodland Cultural Centre.

Staff joined “Virtual Hodinohsho:ni Governance” Workshop on Wednesday, June 19 to learn about the Hodinohsho:ni system of governance and the “Great Canadian Giving Challenge Lunch and Learn: Virtual Tour of Mohawk Institute” on Thursday, 20 June to learn more about the former Mohawk Institute Residential School. Staff will be joining the National Indigenous Peoples Day Celebration on Friday, June 21st!

Check out theYWeRead program picks for Indigneous History Month:  

Book Title: Love After the End: An Anthology of Two-Spirit and Indigiqueer Speculative Fiction 

Author: Joshua Whitehead

Through this anthology, Love After the End show how queer Indigenous communities can bloom and thrive through utopian narratives that detail the vivacity and strength of 2Spirit and Queerness throughout its plight at the hand of settler colonialism, envisioning potential Indigenous-futurist realities.

Content Warning: Violence, Colonisation, Death

Book Title: Unbroken 

Author: Angela Sterritt

In her memoir Unbroken, Angela Sterritt shares her story from navigating life on the streets to becoming an award-winning journalist. As a teenager, she wrote in her notebook to survive. Now, she reports on cases of missing and murdered Indigenous women in Canada, showing how colonialism and racism create a society where Indigenous people are devalued. Unbroken is a story about courage and strength against all odds

Content Warning: Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, Police Brutality

Book Title: Go Show the World: a Celebration of Indigenous Heroes 

Author: Wab Kinew

Celebrating the stories of Indigenous people throughout time, Wab Kinew has created a powerful rap song, the lyrics of which are the basis for the text in this beautiful picture book, illustrated by the acclaimed Joe Morse. Including figures such as Crazy Horse, Net-no-kwa, former NASA astronaut John Herrington and Canadian NHL goalie Carey Price.

Book Title: Braiding Sweetgrass for Young Adults 

Author: Monique Gray Smith

Illustrated by: Nicole Neidhardt

Adapted from: Robin Wall Kimmerer’s book Braiding Sweetgrass

Indigenous wisdom, scientific knowledge and the lessons Kimmerer brought to the fore to a younger generation. Adapted by writer Monique Gray Smith and illustrated by Nicole Neidhardt, this new edition reinforces the importance of gaining ecological knowledge from earth’s oldest teachers: the plants around us.

Book Title: Una Huna? What is This 

Author: Susan Aglukark

Illustrated by: Amanda Sandland and Danny Christopher

In musician Susan Aglukark’s first picture book, Ukpik loves her life at camp in the North with her family, friends and puppy. When a trader from the south arrives, Ukpik learns how to use forks, knives and spoons and is excited to teach other children as well. But then Ukpik wonders if the new tools will change her community’s way of life and turns to her grandmother for guidance. Recommended for ages 5-7.

Title: Nibi is Water 

Authored and Illustrated by: Joanne Robertson

Translated by: Shirley Williams and Isadore Toulouse

This book looks at the importance of Nibi—which means water in Anishinaabemowin (Ojibwe) — and our role to thank, respect, love and protect it. The picture book is written from an Anishinaabe water protector’s perspective and is in dual language — English and Ojibwe. Recommended by ages 0-3.

Some events in Hamilton you can attend to learn about Indigenous history and culture:

Noon Hour Concert, James N. Wilson: Guitar, Voice

Central Library, Hamilton Room

Friday, June 21 @ 12:00pm – 1:00pm


National Indigenous Peoples Day Celebration

City Hall – Forecourt

Friday, June 21 @ 12:00 – 01:00pm


A Celebration with Music, Culture, Film & Conversation

The Westdale, 1014 King St W, Hamilton, ON, L8S 1L4

Friday, June 21 @ 7:30 pm


National Indigenous Peoples Day Celebration

Woodland Cultural Centre

Sunday, June 23 @ 11:00 am – 4:00 pm


Soaring Spirit Pow Wow Festival

Battlefield House Museum & Park, 77 King Street West, Hamilton ON

June 21 – 23, 2024

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