Green Party Statement on National Indigenous Peoples Day

OTTAWA – On National Indigenous Peoples Day, Jenica Atwin (MP, Fredericton), Green caucus critic for Indigenous and northern affairs, reminds Canadians that we must accept the truth of Canada’s history before there can be reconciliation.

“The work of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission was about exposing the painful, destructive, history of the Indigenous/Canadian relationship over time,” said Atwin. “Across Canada, Indigenous people participated, adding their voice to the testimony and reliving their trauma, hoping that Canada would finally understand and uphold its obligations under the Charter and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP).”

In June 2015, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada released its Executive Summary and 94 Calls to Action, directed at governments and other institutions. In a December 2019 analysis the Yellowhead Institute found that only nine Calls to Action had been implemented. Atwin said that the Canadian government’s inaction on implementing the Calls to Action has been disappointing. “We have a responsibility to act and to diligently implement the recommendations as presented to us,” she said.

“National Indigenous People’s Day is special in the Wolastoqey territory in which I live, work and learn. A resurgence of cultural and linguistic initiatives has seen more youth engagement and more respect for elder knowledge leading to growth and prosperity for the communities. These efforts have also led to improvements in the relationship with the local municipality and adjacent military base.”

June 3 marked the one year anniversary of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (MMIWG). The Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC) assigned a failing grade to the federal government for its response to the recommendations of the inquiry. In January, the Pauktuutit Inuit Women of Canada’s report addressing gendered violence against Inuit women emphasized: violence against Indigenous women is rooted in systemic factors that have been woven into the fabric of Canadian society. 

In 2019 Les Femmes Michif Otipemisiwak - The Women of the Métis Nation called for Miskotahȃ, which is the Michif word for change, that are specific to Métis women, girls and gender diverse people and reflect their unique histories and realities. 

“Clearly there is still much work to be done to improve the well-being and safety of First Nations, Métis and Inuit people in this country,” said Green Party Interim Leader Jo-Ann Roberts. 

Ms. Roberts pointed out that Indigenous men and women continue to disproportionately encounter violence at the hands of law enforcement in Canada.  “The tragic circumstances around the recent killings by police officers in New Brunswick, of Chantel Moore, of the Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation on Vancouver Island, and Rodney Levi, of the Metepenagiag Mi'kmaq Nation, evidence this. Greens will continue to advocate for fundamental rights of safety and security for Indigenous communities from coast to coast to coast. 

“On this National Indigenous Peoples Day, I invite all Canadians to celebrate and experience the rich cultural heritage of the Indigenous Peoples of Canada. Now is the time to fully embrace and acknowledge the immense generosity of spirit they have selflessly shared with us for hundreds of years. Now is the time to honour all First Nations, Métis and Inuit people, their culture and traditions, and work together to ensure a brighter future for generations to come.”

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Rosie Emery

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