UFCW Canada activists lobby MPs ahead of National Indigenous Peoples Day


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Toronto – June 9, 2020 – Ahead of this year’s National Indigenous Peoples Day, June 21, UFCW Canada’s Indigenous Sub-Committee held virtual meetings with federal elected officials to explore tangible ways in which the government can improve the working and living conditions of Indigenous union members and their communities.

In the last year, the sub-committee has been working diligently to identify important issues of focus for their meetings. The committee members put forward proposals to address water safety and the elimination of boiling water advisories in Canada, as well issues related to education and employment opportunities for Indigenous persons on and off reserves.

As well, activists advocated for equity for Indigenous children on reserves, and emphasized the need for the government to act on the Calls for Justice outlined in the final report from the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls Inquiry (MMIWG2S).

In sharing their personal narratives and the stories of their communities, the UFCW Canada Indigenous Sub-committee members highlighted the ways in which these issues affect Indigenous communities. Activists at the forefront of this conversation included Angela Fiddler (UFCW 401), Ron Klassen (UFCW 401), Tom Biebrich (UFCW 832), Raven MorningStar (UFCW 1518), Shane Morse (UFCW 1006A), and Gloria Elstone (UFCW 1006A).

Members took time to hear actions being taken by Members of Parliament (MPs) to defend Indigenous peoples’ rights against a backdrop of unmet federal government promises. UFCW activists heard from Jagmeet Singh, NDP Leader and Critic for Crown-Indigenous Relations, Indigenous Services, and Intergovernmental Affairs, and also spoke with MPs Mumilaaq Qaqqaq, Charlie Angus, Leah Gazan, Don Davies, Gord Johns, and Carol Hughes.

“We must take every opportunity to engage our elected Members of Parliament on issues affecting Indigenous persons and workers across Canada,” says Paul Meinema, the national president of UFCW Canada. “I commend all Indigenous Sub-committee members for taking the time to advocate and personally share the impact that these issues are having on their communities. Thank you for all that you do,” he adds.

The virtual lobby was a historic first for UFCW Canada, as the union conducted the meetings through a video conferencing platform that allowed for the participation of representatives from Nunavut, the Yukon, British Columbia, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta, and Ontario.

As Canada’s leading union, UFCW is committed to achieving Indigenous justice in Canada. To learn more about our union’s work in this area, and to find out how you can advance Indigenous rights and reconciliation in your workplace and community, visit UFCW Canada’s Indigenous Rights and Reconciliation webpage.