On June 21, Canadians celebrate National Indigenous Day to honour and experience the unique heritage, diverse cultures and outstanding achievements and contributions of First Nations, Métis and Inuit peoples.
The Truth and Reconciliation report highlighted the struggles Indigenous people have faced due to colonialism, residential schools, the Sixties Scoop, broken treaties, and the federal Indian Act.
Most recently, the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls issued its long awaited report that characterizes the violence inflicted against Indigenous women, girls, and 2SLGBTQQIA people as genocide.
OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas says the union’s solidarity with Indigenous peoples is unwavering.
“I think there is a strong feeling among Canadians that it’s time for action against colonial genocide,” said Thomas. “We should take advantage of National Indigenous Day to recommit ourselves to writing a different story by celebrating Indigenous culture and showing daily acts of reconciliation.”
OPSEU members are strongly encouraged to celebrate National Indigenous Day by participating in events that highlight the achievements Indigenous peoples have made throughout history. Events include summer solstice festivals, sacred fire ceremonies and traditional feasts.
The OPSEU Indigenous Circle is spearheading a campaign to make Indigenous Day a statutory holiday in Ontario. The campaign is planning a legislative breakfast and a Kairos mini-blanket exercise for MPPs at Queen’s Park later this year to call for such a holiday. Until such a holiday is formally recognized, union members are encouraged to work with their union to recognize their right to take this day as a paid holiday, such as utilizing the collective bargaining agreement to access time off.
Declaring June 21 a statutory holiday is one step toward re-writing the narrative of Canadian history into one of reconciliation that honours the cultures and achievements of First Nations, Métis and Inuit peoples.
For more information on National Indigenous Day celebrations check out the following webpages: