National Indigenous People’s Day

Today is National Indigenous Peoples Day, which has been observed since 1996 as a day to celebrate the diverse, vibrant and resilient cultures of First Nations, Inuit and Métis people.

Pushor Mitchell lawyer Sayre Potter is a citizen of Métis Nation British Columbia and his prior work experience has focused on Indigenous-related matters, including self-government agreement negotiations, Aboriginal and Treaty Rights, Indigenous legal traditions, among others.

The photograph shows Sayre with his three Métis sashes, each has its own symbolism and meaning:

  1. La sayncheur flayshii (Ceinture fléchée, or traditional Métis sash) – which was used by men often as a tool during the fur trade, using it to help pull in canoes from the water or to use as stitching to mend torn clothing. Women often used the sash to carry infants, or as a tool to transport items on their backs. The colors represent the following:
  • Red (lii roozh) symbolizes the blood of the Métis that was shed while fighting for their rights.
  • Blue (lii bleu) symbolizes the depth of their spirit.
  • Green (lii ver) symbolizes the fertility of a great nation.
  • White (lii blaan) symbolizes our connection to the Earth and to the Creator.
  • Yellow (lii zhoon) symbolizes the prospect of prosperity.
  • Black (lii nwaenr/nwayr) symbolizes the dark period of suppression and dispossession of Métis lands during the Red River Resistance and the Northwest Resistance.

2. Dark Times/Temps noir Métis Sash – similar to the traditional sayncheur flayshii, however the dominance of the colour red is replaced with black which symbolizes the dark period during the Red River Resistance and the Northwest Resistance. It symbolizes the dark times that the Métis have suffered after losing their rights to lands through the federal government’s Scrip System, which extinguished title rights to their lands and dispossessed many Métis families.

3. Southern Saskatchewan Sash – the Southern Saskatchewan community sash, a special sash for the Métis communities in Southern Saskatchewan.

To learn more about Métis culture, here are two videos:

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