Dear Sisters and Brothers:
June 21 is National Aboriginal Day - we ask you to join CUPE Nova Scotia in celebrating the cultures and contributions of First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples.
CUPE’s National Aboriginal Council works to increase participation of Aboriginal peoples in our union, and promotes and defends the rights of Aboriginal workers in both our union and in the community.
Much work remains in this area, as unemployment among Aboriginal people is double the rate of non-Aboriginal Canadians. Just 61 per cent of Aboriginal adults in Canada are employed, compared to 82 per cent for non-Aboriginal adults. A dramatic wage gap exists too, as earnings of Aboriginal people are just 71 per cent of what non-Aboriginal people earn.
Our union is deeply disturbed by the Harper Government’s recent cuts to several organizations in the country that specifically address Aboriginal health. As a result of federal budget cuts, the National Aboriginal Health Organization (NAHO) has been forced to close down.
CUPE also recognizes access to clean, safe drinking water as a basic human right, and advocates for adequate water and wastewater infrastructure in Aboriginal communities. In March, 2012 CUPE National sponsored day one of an Assembly of First Nations conference on the water rights of First Nations peoples and the threat of the increased commodification of water.
Over 121 First Nations reserves are under boil water advisories. The federal government estimates that $4.9 billion is needed over the next ten years to address the issue, but their budget tabled at the end of April offers just $330 million over two years.
On behalf of the 18,000 members here in Nova Scotia, our pledge is to work with our First Nations brothers and sisters to build a stronger union, stronger workplaces, and better, more inclusive communities for everyone who shares this land.
President, CUPE Nova Scotia