Toronto – The President of OPSEU and the Chief of the Mississaugas of the New Credit First Nation have signed an historic agreement to work together to ensure justice for First Nations.
“This partnership recognizes the sovereignty and Treaty rights of all First Nations communities,” says Mississaugas of the New Credit Chief R. Stacey Laforme. “Through its actions, OPSEU has proven itself as a respectful partner to First Nations communities and we’ll be proud to work with them.”
The agreement commits the First Nation and the union to work together to enact the 94 Calls to Action contained in the Truth and Reconciliation Report and to uphold the principles included in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP).
“This partnership is historic, but it’s not out of the blue. We’ve been working hard to ensure Indigenous people have a powerful voice in our union and in our communities,” says OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas, pointing out that paramedics with Beausoleil First Nation on Christian Island in Simcoe County voted last week to join OPSEU.
“We’re proving ourselves the union of choice for Indigenous workers,” says Thomas.
The partnership between OPSEU and the Mississaugas of the New Credit is one of the many initiatives that have grown out of the first biennial OPSEU Indigenous Conference held last fall in Cornwall, ON. The conference was a true partnership between the OPSEU Indigenous Circle and the Mohawk Nation of Akwesasne. It joins other OPSEU Truth and Reconciliation initiatives that include:
- The Indigenous Mobilization Team (IMT), which is three Indigenous OPSEU members working full-time to support communities and First Nations across the province in their fight for justice in campaigns for “Sixties Scoop” survivors, clean drinking water for Indigenous communities, and Gladue Courts and reform of the criminal justice system.
- A campaign to make June 21 a statutory holiday in Ontario and across Canada.
- A partnership with Food Share Toronto to work with northern and remote Indigenous communities to establish their own food markets to provide healthy and affordable food.
- Participation in the 2017 World Indigenous Peoples Conference on Education and a commitment to international Indigenous Solidarity.
More information: Warren (Smokey) Thomas at 613-329-1931, or Deanna Dunham at 905-768-5858