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Indigenous lobby makes case for June 21 stat holiday

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“It was truly an amazing day,” said Linda Broer, vice-chair of OPSEU’s Indigenous Circle and chair of the June 21 Campaign Committee, about the lobby day at Queen’s Park this week.

Broer, along with a number of other Indigenous activists, many of whom are OPSEU members, were at the legislature to talk to MPPs about making June 21, National Indigenous Day, a statutory holiday. 

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Ron Rousseau, vice-president of the Canadian Labour Congress’s Aboriginal Workers Caucus performed the Wolf Dance during the opening ceremonies on the steps of Queen’s Park. ​

The day started with a smudging ceremony and drumming circle on the steps of Queen’s Park, followed by a breakfast to which more than 50 guests, including a number of MPPs came. Attendees heard Broer and OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas speak on the necessity of concretely honouring the Indigenous experience in Canada by marking National Indigenous Day as a statutory holiday. 

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OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas participates in the smudging ceremony. 

“Our committee was humbled by the support from the community, our union members, and the MPPs who joined us for the day’s events,” said Broer. “It gives us hope that there is a real interest in following through with the calls to action in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s report, of which making June 21 a statutory holiday is one.

“It’s time to celebrate the unique heritage, diverse cultures, and the many contributions of Canada’s Indigenous peoples.”

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A number of Indigenous Circle members and other affiliates pose with President Thomas and MPPs who attended the morning ceremonies.

President Thomas pointed out that this year, as Canada’s 150th anniversary of Confederation, is “the perfect opportunity to recognize the role of Indigenous peoples in Canada’s history, as well as to show a genuine commitment to reconciliation.”

For more pictures from the lobby day, see below.

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