Each June Canada recognizes National Indigenous History Month and on June 21st, we celebrate National Indigenous Peoples Day.
These recognition dates are in place to celebrate the contributions and cultures of Indigenous peoples in Canada. It is not only to honour the historic importance of Indigenous peoples, but to recognize the continued contributions and strength of present-day Indigenous communities.
For example, many Indigenous communities have helped ensure Canada recognize and respond to Canada’s policies and actions that violated the human rights of Indigenous peoples and their culture, such as residential schools. The legacy of these residential schools and Canada’s colonization of Indigenous peoples is traumatic, and through the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) of Canada Report (2015), 94 Calls to Action were made in order to take steps towards reconciliation. SEIU-West is committed to integrating many of these calls to actions through the use of our member education, policies, and union representation. Courses like our Turtle Island Workshop and Unionism 101 aim to educate, build allies, and take action. These are but mere steps as we all walk down the road of reconciliation together but we are ready for the work that lies ahead.
Most recently, the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (MMIWG) released their final report. Their goal was to assess the root causes of violence against Indigenous women and girls. Though the true number is unlikely to be known, it is estimated that as many as 4,000 women and girls have been killed or gone missing in Canada over the past 30 years.
The inquiry’s final report concludes that years of policy and inaction amounted to genocide against Indigenous peoples. Many people view this report as an important turning point due to its powerful statements.
While the report outlines a condemning description of our country’s history, it also inspires a path forward. The report included 231 recommendations for future action, including giving Indigenous languages official status, and investing in early childhood programs for Indigenous youth.
Understanding our history and how it affects present-day communities is vital in making progress towards reconciliation. While there are many steps needed, we encourage you to read the TRC Summary Report and Inquiry Summary Report.
We also encourage you to attend your local Indigenous Peoples Day celebrations - you can find events across the province by visiting the Multicultural Council of Saskatchewan website. There will be a Rock Your Roots Walk for Reconciliation in Saskatoon and SEIU-West plans to join - if you're able to join us, let us know by emailing [email protected]