June 21 is usually a day of celebration for Indigenous peoples, however, this year is a much more challenging time as Indigenous communities across the country mourn the recent discovery of 215 Indigenous children buried at a mass grave site at the Kamloops Indian Residential School in BC.
As Canada’s largest union, we acknowledge that because of these recent events, it is more important than ever to respect the rights of Indigenous peoples to their unceded territories, as well as to preserve and protect their cultures and languages. CUPE stands in solidarity with Indigenous nations, communities and organizations and is committed to continuing to work towards reconciliation, and to respect our on-going treaty relationships.
Our union is striving to educate CUPE members on the legacy of the residential school system and the ongoing harm Canada’s assimilationist policies and laws have on Indigenous peoples.
In 2019, CUPE released “Walking the talk: A practical guide to reconciliation for CUPE locals”. This guide provides CUPE members with key resources to better acknowledge and include Indigenous members in our union, and to help locals take concrete action towards reconciliation with Indigenous peoples.
As part of our ongoing efforts to foster reconciliation in our workplaces and communities, we encourage all members to participate in National Indigenous Peoples Day by sharing in the events of the day. But we can do more. CUPE encourages members to take some time to learn and reflect on the ongoing harm caused by colonialism and Canada’s treatment of Indigenous peoples.
We know that the current COVID-19 pandemic has drastically altered the ways people interact, but it is now even easier to attend events related to National Indigenous Peoples Day through virtual platforms.
What CUPE locals and members can do:
- Read the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Final Report and consider how you can support the calls to action.
- Invite a speaker to your next virtual meeting to talk about truth and reconciliation.
- Ask for CUPE’s Indigenous Awareness workshop and our human rights course. Find out more at cupe.ca.
- Read CUPE’s response to the Final Report by National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls.
- Make employment equity a bargaining priority.
- Acknowledge Indigenous territory at all of your meetings and reach out and forge partnerships with local Indigenous communities and organizations.
- Keep pressure on the federal government to implement their action plan to address the findings of the Final Report by National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls.
- Take the steps outlined in Walking the talk: A practical guide to reconciliation for CUPE locals.
- Watch out for CUPE’s Water is Life Campaign to be launched in the fall of 2021. The campaign will provide materials and resources for members and locals to increase awareness and take action on Indigenous water issues.