Toronto – May 28, 2018 – Annually, we honour June as National Indigenous History Month. We observe, celebrate and acknowledge the sacrifices, strength and accomplishments of First Nations, Inuit and Metis peoples in Canada, while also recognizing that our history has been marred by a legacy of racism inflicted against Indigenous peoples in Canada.
The Indian Residential School system is a chapter of that infamous legacy. On June 11, 2008, then-Prime Minister Stephen Harper offered an official apology from the government to Indigenous People, for what they have suffered because of the residential schools. Since then, June 11 has become known as the National Day of Reconciliation. But ten years after the apology, First Nations children remain discriminated against by an on-reserve school system that is badly underfunded by the federal government compared to schools for children living off-reserve – as the federal government moves slowly in response to an order from Canada’s Human Rights Tribunal to correct this culturally based inequity.
To mark the National Day of Reconciliation, you can join UFCW Canada activists and community members across the country on June 11, by supporting the Our Dreams Matter Too campaign. Created by the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society (the Caring Society), the day involves a community walk, and sending letters to the Prime Minister calling for culturally based equity for First Nations and Indigenous children. Activists in the Toronto area are welcome to join a walk commencing at the National Office at 12 noon on June 11.
In addition to several Reconciliation actions we undertake throughout the year – including honouring National Indigenous Peoples Day, June 21 – we recognize that principles of reconciliation are a pathway forward to reconcile the past. The path requires our deepest commitment to engage, listen, and learn from our Indigenous UFCW members, their families, and their communities. We must stand in solidarity with their struggle and make every effort to reconcile a painful past by building a future based on equity fairness and inclusion for all Indigenous Peoples in Canada.
Paul R. Meinema