OPSEU Affirmation of Principles on Indigenous Peoples’ Rights

OPSEU Affirmation of Principles on Indigenous Peoples’ Rights


The Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU) affirms that each of the Indigenous groups in Canada has its own language, culture, traditions and self-governing structure.

OPSEU further affirms that each also has its own political agenda in its dealings with federal, provincial and territorial governments.

OPSEU affirms that all Indigenous peoples have the inherent right to:

  • full access to all human rights and fundamental freedoms, including the right to preserve and strengthen their own political, economic, legal, and cultural traditions and institutions;
  • self-determination, sovereignty and the ability to remain on their ancestral lands;
  • freedom from subjection to any form of forced assimilation or integration (we recognize the devastating impact of Residential schools and the Sixties Scoop on the children affected and the lasting harm to generations of families for years afterward);
  • freedom from poverty, recognizing that social justice requires economic justice; and
  • freedom from all forms of injustice, racism and discrimination

OPSEU affirms that:

  • The Canadian government must fulfil its historic treaty obligations and settle all outstanding land entitlements, nation to nation.
  • Healing cannot begin until Indigenous peoples re-establish full control over their communities, economies and cultural traditions, and revitalize their languages and cultures.
  • The harms caused to Indigenous women and children by patriarchal colonial policies and discriminatory provisions in the Indian Act must be redressed, and their equality rights must be fully respected.
  • Indigenous peoples have made significant cultural contributions to Canadian culture that must be adequately valued and acknowledged in our history books. Indigenous peoples are actually among the richest humans because of the roots they have in the beautiful cultures handed down by their ancestors.
  • Indigenous peoples attribute cultural importance to women and give them a high level of respect and authority within Indigenous cultures. As a result, their cultures have functioned with great balance and harmony for thousands of years.
  • Labour rights are human rights, recognizing that Indigenous members remain a vital part of organized labour and the Canadian workforce.

OPSEU commits to:

  • calling on the federal government to adhere to the principles in the U.N. Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and to working towards the adoption of a convention on the rights of Indigenous peoples by implementing Bill C-262, the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act;
  • allowing for consultation and communication with, and education and development of, Indigenous members.
  • fully supporting Indigenous members as a leading voice in creating opportunities for Indigenous members as leaders of the Canadian labour movement, and in developing strategies and alliances with other unions to focus our energies where they are most needed;
  • providing resources to its Indigenous members to organize within Indigenous communities, and providing a platform to protect and advance social and economic rights;
  • developing the capacity of our full membership to engage in the kind of awareness‑raising, leadership and political action that draw attention and action to the struggles faced by Indigenous peoples; and
  • working in coalition with progressive partners in Indigenous communities that share our vision of justice, equality and fairness to working people and their families.