June 21, 2012, Ottawa, Ontario- Prime Minister Stephen Harper today issued the following statement to mark National Aboriginal Day: “Today we celebrate the rich and diverse culture of our country’s Aboriginal peoples and reflect upon the important role they have played and continue to play in shaping modern-day Canada. “Aboriginal peoples have made immense contributions to our nation. First Nations fought as allies in the War of 1812 and in every major conflict since, and their cultures and traditions continue to be an integral part of Canadian identity. The enduring relationship between the Government of Canada and First Nations is one based on mutual respect, friendship and support, and we are committed to working towards deepening this bond. “Our Government has made strengthening this relationship a priority. For instance, in 2008 we issued an historic apology to former students of Indian Residential Schools, and in 2010, we endorsed the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous peoples. In January of this year, we also participated alongside First Nations in the historic Crown-First Nations Gathering to set the context for renewed collaboration.