Toronto – May 27, 2015 – Aboriginal History Month is celebrated each June to honour the contributions of First Nations, Inuit and Métis communities throughout our history. The House of Commons unanimously passed the motion for the annual month of observance in 2009, the year following Prime Minister Harper’s official apology on Residential Schools. As UFCW Canada members, united by our collective agreements and our labour, all of us share the diversity of our backgrounds embedded within our rich cultural heritage, and our expectation of respect, dignity, and inclusion at work.
To this extent, we have made it a key priority for 2015 to continue to bring awareness of Reconciliation principles into UFCW Canada workplaces and communities. In advance of National Aboriginal Day – June 21, and in partnership with the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society (FNCFCS), we have created a special poster on Reconciliation, with practical guidelines on workplace relationship building from an equity perspective.
UFCW Canada is also participating in the Honouring Memories, Planting Dreams initiative which takes place in Ottawa on June 3, when hundreds of children and organizations will plant decorated hearts at the gardens of Rideau Hall. Messages of reconciliation will be written on the back of each heart, with additional hearts handed out to Residential School survivors, to acknowledge their courage and as a symbol of their dreams for the future.
On June 9, UFCW Canada activists will also be heading out from the national office to participate in a Our Dreams Matter Too walk to acknowledge the National Day of Reconciliation, in support of Shannen’s Dream to bring educational and culturally based equity for First Nations children. Activists are also encouraged to send a letter to Prime Minister Harper, calling for improvements to government funding of First Nations Children’s services on reserve.
Reconciliation initiatives are about breaking down the very barriers of oppression that focus on our differences, rather than our strengths as activists in solidarity. Let us commit this year to continue the dialogue on why Reconciliation needs to be front and centre in our work spaces and within our communities. Let us continue to build a Canada that listens to individuals’ needs, where protests calling for a national inquiry into the thousands of Missing and Murdered Aboriginal Women in Canada can be cited as part of our history instead of our present. Let us envision a newly elected federal government this fall, which chooses to build more schools and advances education in First Nations communities, instead of giving high wage earners undeserved tax breaks. It is then that we will see systemic advances in inclusion that implement Reconciliation principles throughout Canada.
Paul R. Meinema