CUPE Ontario marks September 30, National Day of Truth and Reconciliation, as a day of awareness and reflection on the realities of Indigenous history in our country. Before 2021, when it was named a national holiday, September 30 was commonly referred to as Orange Shirt Day, which honoured the survivors of residential schools and those who did not survive their time there.
The establishment of a National Day of Truth and Reconciliation fulfills a recommendation of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada. It is a day that we collectively address the cruel legacy of colonialism, celebrate the resilience of Indigenous, Inuit, and Métis peoples, build the foundation of future free of a reaffirm our obligation to right past and current wrongs,
We are reminded of the harsh realities of Indigenous peoples’ experience in Canada in the grim headlines of stories about the bodies of thousands of Indigenous children, who lie in unmarked graves on the grounds of former residential schools; and about the missing and murdered Indigenous women, whose bodies are believed to be buried in landfills.
The fight to honour them and deliver justice on their behalf is only just beginning. We mourn with Indigenous communities and CUPE Ontario commits to respect for their lives and peace to their families – goals that can only be achieved by reuniting them with the remains of their loved ones.
The fight for the respect and recognition continues in Ontario, as Doug Ford’s PCs refuse to hold meaningful consultations with Indigenous leaders and listen to the demands of their communities.
This week we saw members of five First Nations from Northern Ontario march in Toronto, along with their allies, including members of CUPE Ontario’s Indigenous Council, calling Doug Ford to end unwanted mining activity on their Territories. The struggle for justice for Grassy Narrows is also at the forefront of CUPE Ontario’s work and the work of CUPE Ontario’s Indigenous Council, which has made its own amazing contribution to CUPE National’s Water is Life campaign. Before they were halted, Ford PCs were also bent on developing thousands of hectares of Greenbelt land, ignoring the rights of affected Indigenous communities.
As members of CUPE Ontario, we must commit to resisting the Ford PCs’ trampling of Indigenous rights. We must be clear that there can be no end to the crisis in the Ontario government’s relations with Indigenous communities without embracing and adhering the principles of truth and reconciliation.
As trade unionists, we can ensure that our locals use CUPE’s Truth and Reconciliation Bargaining Guide to bargain language in our collective agreements to support Indigenous colleagues and promote reconciliation.
Through these collective efforts, we will be part of putting reconciliation into action and building the brighter future that Indigenous people deserve.