When one is honoured, we are all honoured
Tomorrow is National Aboriginal Day.
This day provides all of us with an opportunity to reflect on the important, unparalleled contributions the First Nations, Inuit, and Metis have made.
Canadians celebrate National Aboriginal Day through a wide variety of events and gatherings across the country. It is fitting this occurs on the longest day of the year, to reflect the many generations of aboriginal peoples who still proudly stand against oppressive policies.
But as a country, we haven't always recognized this as being an important part of the day. In 1982, the National Indian Brotherhood, now the Assembly of First Nations (AFN), called for a National Aboriginal Solidarity Day.
Fourteen years later, on June 13, 1996, when Governor General Romeo LeBlanc signed the proclamation formally designating that National Aboriginal Day be held on June 21, he spoke about the important contributions aboriginals have made in this country.
"Many cities in Canada are less than 100 years old. But aboriginal people have lived in this land for more than 100 centuries," said LeBlanc at Rideau Hall. He further stated, "On June 21, this year and every year, Canada will honour the native peoples who first brought humanity to this great land. And may the first peoples of our past always be full and proud partners in our future."
There can be no beneficial partnerships, today or in the future, unless there is solidarity. The future LeBlanc spoke of belongs to our grandchildren, both yours and mine. Therefore, while we celebrate National Aboriginal Day let's think of why there was call for solidarity. Canadian political, economic, and social solidarity is required for sustainable development, clean water, food and job security. Without the mass political will for solidarity on these basic human rights how do we ensure the grandchildren of the future, both yours and mine, will be full and proud partners in their own homeland?
While we celebrate tomorrow, let's recognize that agents of the federal government, elected or not, are, in essence, public servants. In the words of AFN Regional Chief Bill Erasmus, "it is not the Conservative's government; it is the peoples' government!"
We have the right to fair, transparent, and accountable representation in Parliament.
On National Aboriginal Day let's not avoid the reality that democracy as we know it is rapidly changing. Stand with us and with one voice demand the federal government fully implement the United Nation's Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, because as Northerners, and as Canadians, we should settle for nothing less. Our futures are intertwined as never before; therefore, when one is honoured, we are all honoured.
Join us in solidarity tomorrow at the Elks Club parking lot, 4919 49 Street. Members of the Public Service Alliance of Canada NWT Aboriginal People's Committee will be hosting their annual pancake breakfast starting at 10 am.