National Aboriginal Day is a day for all Canadians to get out and celebrate the cultures and contributions to Canada of First Nations, Inuit and Métis Peoples.
Learn more about the Water Connects Us All artwork.
While June 21 is a day for celebration, we need to continue challenging governments by asking:
- Why our governments continue to ignore the deplorable conditions faced by Aboriginal Peoples?
- Why governments fail to provide for the basic necessities such as safe water, health care and economic sustainability?
- Why is Canada one of only two states in the world who have not recognized the UN Declaration for the Rights of Indigenous Peoples?
The inability of governments to recognize that these necessities are fundamental rights of citizenship is one reason that CUPE uses National Aboriginal Day to express solidarity with Aboriginal Peoples.
CUPE is also dedicated to advocating for First Peoples’ rights in the larger community. Working with Aboriginal communities is one of the most important ways of doing this and some of our most effective work has been accomplished by getting connected.
The beginning of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, headed by Justice Murray Sinclair, was celebrated in Winnipeg on June 17 with CUPE’s Senior Officer for Aboriginal issues in attendance. The residential school system removed children from their families. The legacy remains in the generations of people whose parents and grandparents failed at parenthood because they knew only institutionalization in their own childhood. The Commission will create a historical record and promote education for future generations.
In June, Chief Shawn A-in-chut Atleo of the Assembly of First Nations met with CUPE’s National Executive Board. In the historic meeting, the AFN and CUPE agreed to work on common issues.
Here are some examples of CUPE’s commitment to furthering Aboriginal Peoples’ rights:
- On June 17 in the City of Portage la Prairie, Manitoba, a partnership agreement was signed by CUPE Local 4270, the Regional Health Authority of Central Manitoba, 23 Aboriginal leaders, and universities, colleges and training centres. Its aim is to reduce barriers and provide opportunities.
- In Bella Bella, B.C., CUPE has worked with the local hospital and the Heiltsuk First Nation to complete an essential skills needs assessment, which will support workers in a time of significant technological and economic change.
- In Saskatchewan, partnerships have provided employment opportunities for First Nations, Inuit and Métis Peoples. In July, a historic partnership will be signed between the Métis Nation and CUPE at Back to Batoche days where crowds of up to 40,000 people are expected.
- In Manitoba in November 2009, CUPE National’s Aboriginal Council met with Métis Nation President Clem Chartier.
- CUPE National is also on the board of the Electricity Sector Council which is doing much needed work in communities. CUPE sponsors youth camps for Aboriginal children to educate them on energy sector work.
- As part of its continuing advocacy work on water, CUPE will be forging a partnership with the Safe Drinking Water Foundation. CUPE is also creating opportunities to improve the literacy and essential skills including water level certification levels within our union and Aboriginal communities.
- CUPE will be working closely with the Native Women’s Association on stopping violence against women.
As we celebrate the vibrancy and great traditions of our First Nations, Métis and Inuit peoples on National Aboriginal Day, CUPE National reaffirms its commitment to fight for equality, justice, full inclusion and the right to self-government for all Aboriginal peoples. We ask that all individual members make a commitment to help achieve these important goals.