CAW Statement on Aboriginal People's Day - June 21

June 20, 2013, 8:45 AM EST


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The CAW extends solidarity to Aboriginal Peoples this June 21 - the summer solstice that has, for centuries been recognized as a day to celebrate Aboriginal heritage.

Our union pays tribute to the unparalleled contributions of Aboriginal Peoples in the development and continued vibrancy of Canada. We recognize the strength and determination of our Aboriginal sisters and brothers in the fight for social, economic and environmental justice - a fight that we proudly join.

Canadian unions have a critical role to play in the struggle of decent housing, good jobs, ecological sustainability, accessible education, healthcare and childcare - challenges that are amplified for Aboriginal Peoples. We have a responsibility to lend our voice to the call for solutions to these social and economic ills. We have a role to play in encouraging the governments to address the legitimate grievances of Aboriginal Peoples.

Land treaties between Canadian settlers and First People continue to be undermined, hundreds of years after being signed. These treaties represent a commitment to protect the economic self-sufficiency and cultural independence of Aboriginal Peoples and must be respected.

Treaties, like collective agreements, are only as strong as the resolve of those who fight to defend them. They're only as strong as the communities that stand behind them. Treaties, like collective agreements, are a tool giving voice to the powerless and the oppressed - they allow us to stand, as a community of interests, toe-to-toe with those who wield the greatest power and influence.  When we strengthen our collective resolve to uphold treaty rights, we also strengthen our resolve to uphold union contracts.

By giving voice to Aboriginal Peoples, they can better fight for their right to self-government, right to economic development and right to negotiate with all levels of government. By giving voice to Aboriginal Peoples, their communities can better tackle economic insecurity and widening income disparity with the rest of Canada. Aboriginal Peoples have a voice in the labour movement.

It's time for our federal government to take meaningful and measurable steps to implement the United Nation's Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.  Today on National Aboriginal Peoples' Day, the CAW demands that the federal government develop a real plan of action - working with Aboriginal communities and leadership - to address critical issues like violence against Aboriginal women and girls, access to education and jobs, skills development, health care, housing and access to safe drinking water.

On this Aboriginal Peoples' Day, we celebrate the rich heritage of First People, we acknowledge the challenges they face and we commit ourselves to the work that lies ahead - work that we must do together, in solidarity.

This June 21, CAW members are encouraged to celebrate and honour First Nations, Métis, and Inuit communities by participating in local events commemorating National Aboriginal Peoples' Day. Please inform the CAW Human Rights Department about your local union's activities and send us pictures that will be posted on the CAW website and in our national newsletter.

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