Ontario Federation of Labour

Ontario Federation of Labour

June 20, 2008 11:50 ET

Statement by the OFL National Aboriginal Day - June 21st

Attention: Assignment Editor, Media Editor, News Editor, Government/Political Affairs Editor ONTARIO--(Marketwire - June 20, 2008) - National Aboriginal Day is celebrated across Canada on June 21st, a day first proclaimed in 1996 by then Governor-General Roméo LeBlanc as an annual celebration to recognize and acknowledge the many diverse cultures and outstanding contributions of First Nations, Métis and Inuit to Canada.

The National Indian Brotherhood now the Assembly of First Nations chose the date of June 21st for many reasons: it is the summer solstice that marks the changing of the seasons, it is the longest day of the year and the founding resolution states that June 21st is the time "when the seeds of our future sustenance have been sown and grow in this land which is ours since time immemorial."

"It is especially poignant this year," said Terry Downey, OFL Executive Vice-President, "after the Canadian government's formal apology to Aboriginal Peoples on June 11, 2008 for their ill treatment in the now infamous residential school system that brought misery and harm to little children by snatching children from their families resulting in generations of damage to many aboriginal communities."

"The apology was a very emotional day for our Aboriginal Peoples," said Downey. "It touched many people and the reactions were very intense and very personal. But it was also a day of cautious hope and renewal to once again sow the seeds of hope for another season, for future generations."

Here in Ontario the pressure for concrete and committed actions on aboriginal issues is growing. The 2006 Census data shows that "Ontario, the most populous province, is also the province with the largest Aboriginal population and that our Aboriginal population is significantly younger than the non-aboriginal population. More than a third of the Aboriginal population consists of children and teenagers aged 19 and under."

"Some of our aboriginal peoples are living in poverty - without safe water to drink, adequate housing, access to quality health care, education, training and good paying jobs." Downey said. "These issues must be addressed now - not studied to death. Society and the labour movement must and will stand alongside our Aboriginal brothers and sisters, and demand that governments meet treaty rights, mining rights and other legal obligations. We must give our Aboriginal Peoples basic human rights."

"The need to rebuild the trust of our First Nations, Métis and Inuit peoples can only be accomplished if the apology is followed up respectfully by sincere direct actions and favourable outcomes."

/For further information: Terry Downey, OFL Executive Vice-President
416.578.3230 (cellular)/ IN: LABOUR, MEDIA, POLITICS, OTHER

Contact Information

  • Dana Boettger, OFL Communications
    Primary Phone: 416-441-2731 ext. 665
    Secondary Phone: 416-443-7665
    Toll-Free: 800-668-9138