Canada’s justice system is not working for Indigenous peoples.

With the recent not-guilty verdicts given in two separate murder cases involving Indigenous youth, we clearly see our justice system is failing Indigenous peoples.

However, something bigger has been revealed by our collective failing of Tina Fontaine and Colten Boushie. We are broken as a society.

Indigenous women and children have been murdered or have gone missing and there has been little recognition that a pattern has been developing: If you are Indigenous in Canada there is an overwhelming chance that you will be denied justice. We let this happen by remaining passive.

No longer.

It is difficult to say these things out loud. But the racism that exists in our institutions, and in our society as a whole towards Indigenous peoples in Canada is staggering and we must come to terms with that. Canada’s largest union will play its part in that reckoning.

“We have to shine a light on this problem and actively work to dismantle the systemic racism that runs through our society,” said Mark Hancock, CUPE National President. “We must work with our Indigenous partners or any hope of reconciliation will be futile.”

As Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak Grand Chief Sheila North said on the steps of the Manitoba courthouse, “The systems, everything that was involved in Tina’s life, failed her. We’ve all failed her. We as a nation need to do better for our young people.”

“CUPE represents 650,000 workers from coast to coast and we wish to express our sorrow and offer our condolences to the grieving families and communities of Colten Boushie and Tina Fontaine, and to all Indigenous peoples in pain from these injustices,” said Charles Fleury, CUPE National Secretary-Treasurer. “We agree with Chief North that we – as a nation – must do better. And we commit to seeing justice for Indigenous peoples across this land.”