TORONTO – After years of cultural genocide and stolen land, the government and people of Canada are finally being called to accountability in the Truth and Reconciliation Report Call to Action. The Commission made 94 recommendations to redress the legacy of the Canadian residential school system. Given that OPSEU members will be the front line workers to implement many of these recommendations, President Warren “Smokey” Thomas is calling for an immediate response to provide justice to the thousands of children abducted from their families in the name of “progress.”
“Our Union can play a part in the truth and reconciliation process by adopting these recommendations within our negotiated contract agreements,” said President Thomas. Among the recommendations, education plays a major part to ensure that the history of Canada’s Indigenous communities is told through their lens, in their voice. “We have already begun the process in educating our members on the legacy of colonialism and actions committed against our Indigenous sisters and brothers by offering a course The Aboriginal Journey: Walking Together to OPSEU members.
“We also recognize that the Metis people were left out of the formal apology and out of the Truth and Reconciliation Report, but our union has not. We acknowledge that they had suffered. The United Nations has just labeled Canada as having committed cultural genocide against its Indigenous people; this Canadian shame should not be our legacy. Take for example the first recommendation, child care. We support that all Social Workers and agencies appreciate true Indigenous history.”
OPSEU`s Aboriginal Circle that consists of two Aboriginal members per Region are committed to educating the membership on their true history and sharing their unique culture and heritage with their members.
This is one step in a long journey to honour those that passed and those that have not been born yet. It is time. We don't have to wait for governments to start; reconciliation can and should start with all of us.