UFCW Canada ROLLS WITH THE DECLARATION to demand Harper Tories implement UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples
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Recently, UFCW Canada joined its community partner, KAIROS Canadian Ecumenical Justice Initiatives, in culminating its Roll with the Declaration campaign in Ottawa. More than 500 travellers, banner makers, indigenous elders, religious leaders, community activists and supporters gathered at Victoria Island on Algonquin territory (a.k.a. Ottawa, Ontario). UFCW Canada added its own banner to the collection of banners — each representing aboriginal groups, churches, artists, community organizations, schools, and trade unions — all demanding that the Canadian government fully implement the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP).
“Togetherness is the way to go. We stand up; we fight for our rights,” said Minnie Kenoras, an Elder from the Shuswap Nation Tribal Council who had travelled on the KAIROS Banner Train for six days. National Anglican Indigenous Bishop Mark MacDonald blessed the march led by indigenous Elders and religious leaders. The march followed the opening ceremony and presentation at Victoria Island, and as it proceeded to Parliament Hill, church bells rang throughout the streets of downtown Ottawa.
Joyne Lavides, representative of UFCW Canada's Human Rights, Equity and Diversity department, carried the UFCW Canada banner and marched alongside community activists. “As trade unionists, we need to support our aboriginal sisters and brothers whose basic human rights are severely neglected by the Canadian government.”
Ellen Gabriel, former President of the Quebec Native Women’s Association and chief negotiator for the Kanehsatà:ke community during the 1990 Oka Crisis, was one of the speakers at Parliament Hill. According to Gabriel, the Harper government needs to set aside archaic practices and embrace the spirits and principles of the UN Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. “It is the key element to its implementation to eliminate and halt existing colonial structures that continue to dispossess and marginalize indigenous peoples.”
From Parliament Hill, the procession took its final roll at the Human Rights Monument on Elgin Street. Dr. Cindy Blackstock, Executive Director of First Nations Children and Family Caring Society (FNCFCS), a national community partner of UFCW Canada, was one of the speakers. She highlighted that equality be given to every First Nations child.
“Our kids deserve to cross safely to the other side,” said Dr. Blackstock. “No child should be told 'No' and get less simply because he or she is an indigenous child in a country like Canada.”
Naveen Mehta, the Director of Human Rights for UFCW Canada noted that, “UFCW Canada, as one of the signatories to the KAIROS petition to demand full implementation of the UNDRIP, calls for the Government of Canada to build a positive and productive relationship with First Nations, Inuit, and Métis peoples. These are relatively simple principles that would go a long way towards repairing Canada's embarrassing and unacceptable international reputation in its historical mistreatment of our aboriginal sisters and brothers. Unfortunately, the Harper regime in Ottawa has shown us, time and time again, that it is mean-hearted and has no interest in dealing with past and ongoing injustices when it comes to aboriginal peoples.