The day of action was to support the AFN’s seven point plan to address Aboriginal poverty.
In Ottawa, about a thousand people were on hand at a gathering on Victoria Island which later marched to Parliament Hill.
- Canada was one of only four countries to vote against the UN declaration on the rights of aboriginal people last year. 143 countries have adopted the declaration.
- Canada faces a shortage of skilled workers, meanwhile widespread, chronic unemployment and miserable education funding in Aboriginal communities conspire to keep aboriginal youth - half of aboriginal people are under 25 - from taking their place in Canadian society.
- Several people from the Cree town of Attawapiskat, on James Bay were on hand to testify about the horrible conditions of their school, a freezing, poorly insulated set of trailers with no library or recreation facilities.
- A group of Cree children met with Indian Affairs Minister Chuck Strahl, when Strahl asked the children what they thought of his big office, one responded, “It’s bigger than my classroom.”
CUPE Aboriginal Diversity Vice-President Brian Barron was also on hand.
“It’s easy to hide behind the flag, or inside the Parliament buildings, but our people don’t have drinkable water, access to health care,” Barron said. “And our government’s actions are pathetic. They ignore the suffering of our people, which is at a critical point.”
Barron said he was encouraged by young aboriginal activists in CUPE.
“More and more young aboriginal people are taking things into their own hands. They’re speaking up at meetings, making change in their communities. They’re ready for the challenges they face.”