June is National Indigenous History Month, a time to recognize the history, heritage and diversity of First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples in Canada. It is a time for learning about, appreciating, and acknowledging the contributions they have made in shaping Canada.
But as we celebrate the progress made, we must also accept that much more remains to be done.
From a full accounting of the horrors of the residential school system, to investigating the disproportionate level of violence experienced by Indigenous women and addressing the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s 94 Calls to Action, our journey is far from over.
The appointment of Mary Simon in 2021 as the first Indigenous Governor General of Canada represents an important step forward for this country as it continues to work towards reconciliation with First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples. Ms. Simon has spent a great part of her life working on Arctic and Indigenous issues and has been widely recognized for her efforts in advocating for Inuit rights, youth, education and culture.
Pope Francis was moved to apologize for the Catholic Church’s role in the residential school system after meeting a delegation of Indigenous peoples in Rome earlier this year. He is expected to address the issue again when he visits Quebec, Edmonton and Iqaluit in July.
Indigenous families remain deeply scarred by the generations of abuse perpetrated within the walls of residential schools. As such, Indigenous peoples are entitled to more than just an apology if true healing is to take place.
The hard work of reconciliation can’t just be left up to religious and political leaders, however. All of us who build our lives in this vast and beautiful country have a responsibility to do our part to keep the process advancing. A great place to start is by educating ourselves and our children about the history of Indigenous peoples.
IUOE Local 793 stands with Indigenous peoples across the country and within our Union membership, as we continue to work together to build a stronger, fairer Canada for all.