On June 21, 1996 the federal government declared the first National Aboriginal Day. Since that time, the BCGEU has joined the celebrations and the calls for increased support and recognition of Aboriginal peoples across Canada.
Over the course of those 20 years, Aboriginal peoples in Canada have fought for and won many advancements and reinforcements of their rights – sometimes through government initiatives, but often through rulings in Canada’s court system. (see cases below)
These decisions by Canada’s highest courts and Human Rights Tribunal have defined existing Aboriginal rights under Section 35 of the Constitution Act and helped to eliminate the systemic discrimination that past Canadian governments have imposed on Aboriginal peoples.
These court decisions, while at-times cumbersome and time-consuming, have helped inform Canadians of the constitutional rights and responsibilities which hold our governments accountable as we move forward as a nation.
In addition to the court rulings, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) report, released in 2015, chronicled the legacy of cultural genocide endured by First Nations peoples at the hands of the Canadian government. The report provides 94 recommendations representing calls-to-action to Canadians, including the initiation of a statutory holiday to reflect on the truth and reconciliation process.
On this important anniversary, the BCGEU joins First Nations in calling on all Canadians to become familiar with the TRC calls-to-action and to honour the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. By building unity with Indigenous peoples, Canada can become an international example in advancing the rights of Aboriginal peoples.