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CULE Statement on National Aboriginal Day 2017

CULE Statement on National Aboriginal Day 2017

As we celebrate National Aboriginal Day with our Indigenous Sisters and Brothers, the Canadian Union of Labour Employees (CULE) along with other unions in Canada must continue to stand in solidarity with Indigenous people in Canada in the fight for full equality and social and economic justice.

June 21, National Aboriginal Day, is a day for all Canadians to celebrate the unique heritage, diverse cultures and outstanding achievements of Indigenous Peoples in Canada; past, present and future.

While Canada celebrates 150 years of Confederation this year, many Indigenous people in Canada do not see this year as a reason for celebration. It is important to recognize that Indigenous peoples had been living and thriving in Canada for thousands of years before Canada became a nation. The legacy of 150 years of colonization and genocide through the Residential School system lives on today as Indigenous communities across Canada continue to face wide-spread challenges including: poverty, violence, lack of access to clean drinking water, and barriers to access to adequate housing, healthcare, education and employment opportunities. Indigenous children continue to face discrimination and live in crisis in the broken child welfare system.

Many of these problems have their roots in the intergenerational trauma faced by Indigenous people from the Residential Schools system which forcibly uprooted children from their families to face mistreatment and abuse. While the Federal Liberal government campaigned on a “renewed nation-to-nation relationship” with Indigenous peoples in Canada we have yet to see concrete gains made on the recommendations from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. We call on the government to show its commitment by ending delays and pushing forward with the National Inquiry on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women.

While the Indigenous community faces these challenges, we acknowledge and support the many gains made through individual and collective resistance. CULE made a recent donation towards The Circle of Life Thunderbird House – Whaka Pimadiziiwii Pinaysiiwigamic in Winnipeg, Manitoba through our International Solidarity Fund. Our Fund marks $1000 per year in donations for the Aboriginal Community within Canada to develop linkages with Aboriginal organizations, and/or assist in various ways to better the quality life of Aboriginal workers.

While Indigenous workers continue to face barriers to full participation in our workplaces, we will continue to uphold Employment Equity principles and renew our commitment to working to removing barriers and ending racial discrimination within our union and workplaces. The recent WOCAMI (Workers of Colour, Aboriginal, Metis, Inuit) conference was an important opportunity for Indigenous and racialized workers to come together to share experiences, understand our common issues and come up with concrete recommendations.

The Canadian Union of Labour Employees acknowledges the traditional territories of Indigenous Peoples, where celebrations will be taking place on June 21. Today we celebrate and continue to stand in solidarity in resistance with our Indigenous Sisters and Brothers from coast to coast to coast.


I can cite for you


Lists of the dead

150 languages no longer spoken

150 rivers poisoned

150 Indigenous children taken into care last month

150 Indigenous communities without water

150 grieving in a hotel in Winnipeg

150 times a million lies

told to our faces

to steal our lands.


I can cite for you


Forms of resistance

150 battles to the death

150 water warriors walking

150 naming ceremonies

150 ways we shake the ground with dance and song

150 tattooed expressions of sovereignty

150 times 2 million days faces were painted

with earth of this land.


I can cite for you


Summers coming of resurgence

150 thousand babies birthed in ceremonies

150 thousand status cards burned

150 thousand youth marching for water

150 thousand children with braids and feathers in their hair

150 thousand Indigenous words being spoken without English

150 summers coming

of Mother Earth calling out to our hearts

150 summers coming

where you too, will finally come to understand

the power and spirit of these lands and waters

as our ancestors have known and have been trying to tell you for 500 years.

#WaterIsLife #LandIsSacred #Canada150 ?

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