June 21 is National Day, a day to recognize and celebrate First Nations, Inuit and Métis people in Canada. On this day we have many reasons to celebrate and also many reasons to fight.
For far too long the federal government has ignored the needs of Aboriginal people in Canada. This year’s federal budget showed the Harper Conservatives’ intention to carry on this shameful legacy. The budget contains sweeping cuts to Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada. It threatens the political rights of Aboriginal activists. It makes way for the privatization of water. And it altogether ignores Inuit residents in the northern territories.
The Atlantic Region of the Public Service Alliance of Canada is committed to fighting for the rights of Aboriginal people in Canada. We are proud that a resolution to support Shannen’s Dream that originated at our 2011 Atlantic Convention was successful at the PSAC National Triennial Convention this year in Ottawa. Shannen’s Dream is a project that seeks to ensure that the Government of Canada meets its obligations to First Nations children and youth by providing equitable, culturally-based education and proper schools.
We also proudly support the important work of Charlene Vidito-Milne, Atlantic Director for Aboriginal Members, and National Aboriginal Peoples’ Circle representatives Barbara Paul and Joey Dunphy. Currently they are all working on establishing a Regional Aboriginal Peoples’ Circle here in the Atlantic. The purpose of this circle would be to provide a traditional way for our aboriginal members to congregate, discuss issues, and come up with solutions in a respectful, safe environment which is familiar to them traditionally but also promotes a feeling of harmony and kinship in those who participate.
On June 21st I hope that all PSAC members in the Atlantic will renew their commitment to achieving justice for Aboriginal people. We all know that it’s time.
Regional Executive Vice-President