OTTAWA, Aug. 24, 2016 /CNW/ - In support of First Nation, Inuit and Metis peoples, Unifor devoted this day of its Convention to demand justice for Indigenous people and immediate action on the Truth and Reconciliation Commission recommendations.
"Today we confront the shameful realities that Indigenous people suffer," said Unifor National President Jerry Dias. "It's time for justice! Our union will push for change to end human rights abuses and to restore land and economic self-sufficiency to Indigenous peoples."
Cindy Blackstock, Executive Director of the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society of Canada and recipient of Unifor's Neil Reimer Social Activist of the Year Award, told delegates that we can no longer afford to turn away from the cascade of hopelessness. Blackstock encouraged delegates to push for action to address structural racism.
"Being Canadian is about more than just painting a maple leaf on your face on Canada Day," said Blackstock in reference to Canada's upcoming 2017 sesquicentennial celebrations. "I for one would be willing to cancel the birthday party so a few more kids could go to school."
Senator Murray Sinclair, Chair of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission was also presented with Unifor's Nelson Mandela Award for Human Rights in recognition of his life-long commitment to Aboriginal issues. "We have a responsibility to educate ourselves and use our influence to make a difference," Sinclair told delegates via videoconference.
Following the award presentations, Convention delegates marched to Parliament Hill in full support of the 94 recommendations outlined in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
"Solidarity, unity and family unite unions and our First Nations people as we work for justice," said Ontario Regional Chief Isadore Day as he addressed the crowd in front of Parliament. Delegates were then treated to a special performance by Juno Award winner Susan Aglukark.
"Our purpose today is to bring to bear all the influence that our union can to ensure that the commitment for change we have from government and so many Canadians is fulfilled," said Dias.
Unifor, founded on Labor Day of 2013, is Canada's largest union in the private sector, representing more than 310,000 workers in every sector of the economy. It was formed Labour Day weekend 2013 when the Canadian Auto Workers and the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers unions merged.