Toronto – May 29, 2017 – The month of June marks Aboriginal History Month in Canada. As part of Aboriginal History Month, Canadians from coast to coast observe the National Day of Reconciliation on June 11, which coincides with the federal government’s 2008 apology to the 180,000 Aboriginal peoples who were impacted by Canada’s residential school system.
In addition, June 21 will mark the 21st anniversary of National Aboriginal Day, which celebrates the diverse cultures, traditions, heritage, and achievements of First Nations, Inuit, and Métis peoples in Canada. This year, National Aboriginal Day will also be honoured as part of Canada’s 150th birthday celebration.
Recently, Shannen Koostachin was named one of the 150 Greatest Canadians for her tireless work to achieve equity for indigenous communities. UFCW Canada has a long history of supporting Shannen’s vision for clean and safe schools on First Nations reserves, because our union believes that every child deserves a chance to get a good education and to grow up healthy. Accordingly, as part of this year’s National Aboriginal History Month, UFCW will once again be supporting the annual Shannen’s Dream walk and letter-writing campaign demanding improvements to schools on reserves and better services for First Nations children.
As Canada’s leading and most progressive union, UFCW also recognizes that solutions to the numerous challenges that indigenous peoples are facing – including the suicide crises that have rocked the communities of Attawapiskat, Ontario and Cross Lake, Manitoba – are not singular and require the actions of many people collaborating towards a shared goal. National Aboriginal History month is therefore about taking time to engage with indigenous peoples and organizations and asking how we can work together to make things better. It is also about advocating with indigenous groups for meaningful public policy changes aimed at empowering Canada’s First Nations, Inuit, and Métis peoples.
I encourage you to visit UFCW’s webpage on Reconciliation to learn about the important work that our union is conducting to support indigenous UFCW members and allies. And as we celebrate this important month, let us work towards indigenous justice by standing in solidarity with indigenous peoples and organizations and reflecting on the incredible achievements that aboriginal peoples have contributed to our country’s rich fabric and history. Together, we can make a difference by working to reconcile our differences, better understand each other, and build a more hopeful and inclusive future for everyone.
Paul R. Meinema