Numerous community, church and labour organizations joined First Peoples and non-aboriginal communities by organizing events that recognized the first anniversary of the federal government’s apology to First Nations, Métis and Inuit people of Canada on the issue of residential schools.
Individuals, unions, groups and communities participated in the June 11 national symbolic act of reconciliation. Part of the apology called for the establishment of a new standard of behavior toward Aboriginal Peoples.
First Peoples are asking to turn the apology into substantive action, which both reconciles and addresses:
- the sub-standard living experienced by First Peoples compared to the rest of Canada,
- the need to raise the educational levels for schools operated by First Peoples,
- and improvements to the child and family services levels operated by First Peoples.
At the Ottawa event, participants, including many CUPE members, marched from Victoria Island to Parliament Hill. The event included a round/friendship dance (traditional display of friendship and goodwill) with pow wow singers and drummers and numerous speakers.
Some of the issues discussed along with the residential school issue were the Jordan Principle, equality in child welfare funding, the Attawapiskat school campaign, the disarming of border guards and reopening the Canada-US crossing in Cornwall that saddles the Mohawk’s territory.
The National Day of Reconciliation is a day to focus public awareness on the Residential School Settlement Agreement and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. It is an opportunity to call on the political leaders of our country to recognize the true meaning of reconciliation and that of future possibility.