Today the Canadian Labour Congress joins Indigenous communities across Canada in celebrating National Aboriginal Day.
The CLC is also taking this opportunity to congratulate the government for endorsing the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples this past May. The declaration recognizes Indigenous peoples’ basic rights on issues including language, land, health, and education.
“It is an endorsement that was a long time coming and we applaud the federal government for publicly making this important commitment to Indigenous rights,” said CLC President Hassan Yussuff.
But Yussuff noted there is still much work to do to ensure the principles in the declaration – as well as the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) report recommendations – are put into practice in Indigenous communities across Canada.
The CLC will work with affiliates on a labour framework for action to guide implementation of the TRC report recommendations.
“Unions, employers and government must all come together to challenge existing policies that have led to inequality and discrimination, gaps in equal access to employment, education, housing, child welfare, justice, and safe drinking water in Aboriginal communities,” said Yussuff.
For example, the unemployment rate of Indigenous Canadians has been in the double digits since 2007, compared to single-digit rates for non-Indigenous Canadians. When they are employed, Indigenous Canadians, particularly women, experience a significant income gap.
Indigenous women and girls are also at heightened risk of violent crime — 16 percent of women murdered in Canada between 1980 and 2012 were Aboriginal, according to government statistics.
“The inquiry into missing and murdered Aboriginal women remains a priority for Canadian unions and we stand in support of women in Indigenous communities who are calling for a thorough process with a human rights framework,” said Yussuff.