On July 1, many Canadians will gather with family and friends on a day set aside to honour Canada. They will be in parks, near lakes, in town centres and back yards. No doubt, what Canada means to different people will be a topic for some discussion.
Canada Day is especially meaningful in 2007, falling on the heels of a countrywide National Day of Action for Canada’s First Nations people. It was a day in which many non-aboriginal Canadians and CUPE members stood up in solidarity with brothers and sisters in Canada’s First Nations. On June 29, Canadians stood together to take action in the name of eradicating poverty in aboriginal communities across the country.
CUPE members have a great deal to be proud of when we consider the things that give rise to the most positive aspects of life in Canada. Most particularly, the work we do in delivering the public services that provide for clean water, health care, child care, education, electrical power, libraries and more. Our work deserves to be celebrated today.
We in CUPE don’t take those services for granted. We know that the task of ensuring that Canada continues to increase the provision of those services to all will require the energy and determination of solidarity. That is why this day is an important reminder to stand up for the right of everyone in the world to have access to those publicly delivered services that build strong communities.
While brother Claude was in Dieppe, New Brunswick on Friday, sharing a stage with a Fort Folly First Nation pipe carrier Jean Nye, he acknowledged the importance of supporting the AFN’s day of action in response to the crises in First Nations Communities. Meanwhile, brother Paul was in Johannesburg, South Africa attending the triennial congress of the National Education, Health and Allied Workers Union. The congress was taking place during a month-long public service strike by our brothers and sisters in South Africa.
These activities, together with the many actions CUPE members have engaged in at home and abroad this year, are a reminder of how continuous is the struggle for working people’s rights. Think of our tremendous victory at the Supreme Court of Canada on June 8; the work we did in supporting the CLC’s actions on anti-scab legislation that didn’t quite make it through parliament; the Made in Canada jobs strategy; and CUPE activities in support of the NDP’s universal child care resolution in Canada’s parliament. These are the kind of actions that build solidarity.
We are fighting for basic rights and services, and against privatization, in community after community in this country—a fight well illustrated by the struggle for freedom of the press against media giant Quebecor in Quebec City. And we are supporting the actions of brothers and sisters at home in First Nations communities and abroad in countries like South Africa, where the fight to build and maintain publicly delivered public services is part of the nation building process.
The connections between all working people, wherever they live in the world, are brought home to us in Canada on July 1, and we wish all CUPE members and Canadians a good, thoughtful and peaceful Canada Day.