June 21 is #NationalIndigenousPeoplesDay. On this day, and everyday, all Canadians are asked to recognize and celebrate the unique heritage, diverse cultures and outstanding contributions of First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples and to explore the entirety of the history and experiences of Indigenous peoples in Canada.

June is the fifth moon of the Anishinaabe lunar calendar and is known as Strawberry Moon or Demin Dabik Giizis. Strawberries represent an important part of the cycle of life as they first bear fruit in the Spring and begin the thanksgiving cycle.

This can be heard in the poem by Elizabeth Doxtator from Six Nations. She is Mohawk and from the Turtle Clan.

Did you ever look at a strawberry
And see that it’s shaped like a heart?
They’re red and juicy and good for you
And they’re an important part
Of the cycle of life that we honour
As they first bear fruit in the spring
They begin our thanksgiving cycle
As we give thanks for everything
The strawberry came from the Skyworld
When all the world was sea
They were in the hand of the woman
Who fell through the hole near the tree
As she fell she called for help
And the birds answered her call
They brought her to the earth
To break gently her fall
They placed her on
The turtles giant shell
She planted the roots on the turtles back
With tobacco roots as well
She lived alone for awhile
But Skywoman soon gave birth
She loved and raised her daughter
Now there were two women living on earth
When the daughter was grown
She too gave birth but to twins
And this is the start of the story
Of how life on earth begins
This year when the flowers have blossomed
And the fruits have been picked as well
Remember Skywoman’s journey
From Sky world to turtles shell

Each month Heritage Mississauga will continue to follow the Anishinaabe lunar calendar and explore the Anishinaabe language and Indigenous teachings.

We would like to extend a big thank you, or Chi Miigwetch, to Faith Rivers, Cultural Coordinator for the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation (MCFN) Cultural Committee and Chair of the Indigenous Programs Committee for Heritage Mississauga, for her ongoing support and for sharing her knowledge.

#ApartTogether we remember our collective responsibility to care for Mother Earth and each other.