Wednesday, June 21, 2017

On National Aboriginal Day, and as we prepare for the upcoming 150th anniversary of Confederation, Canada’s unions are recognizing the history of Canada’s First Nations, Métis and Inuit people that pre-dates Canada by more than 10,000 years.

“What we call Canada today was inhabited by hundreds of diverse societies long before the arrival of Europeans, but our colonial history has entrenched inequalities that have been compounded by hundreds of years of racism, exploitation, injustice and systemic discrimination,” said CLC President, Hassan Yussuff.

“We have a long way to go to re-build relationships with Canada’s Indigenous communities so we can better support their ongoing struggle for justice through the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) and the Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls,” said Yussuff.

Indigenous communities are struggling to receive basic necessities like clean drinking water, education, and health care. These communities are further devastated by the continued rise of suicides in young people.

“It’s shameful that many Indigenous families live without basic services, like clean drinking water, educational facilities and mental health support,” said Yussuff. “We cannot continue to look away from conditions that would never be acceptable for other communities. It is time for Canada to invest in concrete measures to elevate the standards in Indigenous communities in this country.”

Canada’s unions have been active in the call for justice for Canada’s First peoples. They made the issue of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls a priority, launching petitions and actively lobbying government to take action. Unions also supported the Native Women’s Association of Canada and the Sisters in Spirit project, by encouraging union members to attend annual vigils, and assisting Indigenous women to bring their voices to UN bodies to raise international awareness.

When the federal government finally launched the long-awaited inquiry in August 2016, union representatives stood shoulder-to-shoulder with the Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC) and other allies to respond to the terms of reference.

Canada’s unions also recognize that the issue of missing and murdered Indigenous women is linked to the intergenerational legacy of residential schools, as outlined in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission final report.

The federal government today announced its intention to rename National Aboriginal Day to National Indigenous Peoples Day in order to better reflect the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.