Canada’s unions call on new federal government to prioritize reconciliation ahead of first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation

September 29, 2021

Canada’s unions are marking the first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation by strengthening our resolve to fighting for Indigenous rights and justice.

“We are committed to working toward reconciliation with First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples and we stand in solidarity with them,” said Bea Bruske, CLC President. “We call on the new federal government to recommit to reconciliation and to make it a priority as they plan their new mandate.”

September 30, 2021 marks the first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, recognized by the Federal and some provincial and territorial governments as a new statutory holiday. This day has also historically been recognized and commemorated across the country as Orange Shirt Day, a day to remember and honour all the Indigenous children taken from their families and communities and sent to residential schools, where they experienced abuse, racism, violence, and mistreatment.

Canada’s residential school system is estimated to have violently uprooted and impacted the lives of at least 150,000 First Nations, Inuit and Métis children, and its multi-generational impacts are still deeply felt across Indigenous communities to this day.

“The residential school system is a significant part of Canada’s heinous history of colonial violence enacted upon Indigenous communities. Its legacy continues with the ongoing marginalization and traumatization of Indigenous peoples and communities, and the creation of widespread socioeconomic and health inequities that have rippled across generations,” said Bruske.

“A National Day for Truth and Reconciliation is important in recognizing and facing the historical and present-day harm inflicted upon Indigenous people and communities, and reminds us all of our individual and collective responsibility in working toward reconciliation with First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples. We all have a role to play when it comes to fighting to dismantle the systems that continue to perpetuate these longstanding injustices,” said Lily Chang, CLC Secretary-Treasurer.

For Canada’s unions, this means continuing to support Indigenous workers and communities and pushing all levels of government to make concrete commitments and take action on reconciliation by:

• Implementing all of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action and the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls’ Calls for Justice, beginning with implementation of the TRC calls to action 71 through 76 on the Missing Children and Burial Information, which include searching all residential school burial sites in Canada and providing sufficient funding to the National Residential School Student Death Register;

• Urging all provincial and territorial governments to recognize September 30 as a statutory holiday to observe the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation;

• Dropping government court battles against residential school survivors;

• Ending discrimination against First Nations children in the delivery of child welfare services on reserves Implementing by reforming the First Nations Child and Family Services (FNCFS) program in compliance with the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal’s ruling.

“We’re encouraging all workers to take time on September 30 to learn more about the report and recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, to reflect on what reconciliation means, and to take the first steps on this journey toward justice by pushing for change,” said Bruske.

Take Action:

Send a letter to the Prime Minister to push for real commitments and meaningful action toward reconciliation and justice for Indigenous people and communities.

Other actions you can take:

• Learn more about Orange Shirt Day and wear orange to show your support for Indigenous communities impacted by residential schools;

• Participate in an event online to mark the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation such as Truth and Reconciliation Week (September 27 to October 1) or attend an event in your area (Example: National Day for Truth and Reconciliation and Orange Shirt Day at Beechwood Cemetery (Ottawa) or Intergenerational March for Orange Shirt Day (Vancouver);

• Donate and support Indigenous-led organizations and Indigenous community supports such as the Indian Residential Schools Survivor Society, First Nations Child & Family Caring Society and Legacy of Hope Foundation;

• Read and learn more about Canada’s history and legacy of colonialism:

o Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada’s 94 Calls to Action

o Final Report of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (MMIWG) and its 231 Calls for Justice

o Native Women’s Association of Canada’s Action Plan to End the Attack Against Indigenous Women, Girls, and Gender-Diverse People

o Yellowhead Institute’s Calls to Action Accountability: A 2020 Status Update on Reconciliation

o CLC’s recommendations for the federal government on Indigenous rights and justice

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