Monday, June 13, 2011
The clock is ticking towards June 20th, the National Day of Solidarity for Canada’s Indigenous People. On that day Canadians will gather on Parliament Hill in Ottawa and in other venues around the country to show their support for our First Nations, Inuit and Metis people.
Why is such a day necessary? Perhaps because suicide rates in Canada are five to six times higher for Indigenous youth as they are for other Canadians. Perhaps because Canada’s Indigenous women are far more likely to face violence than anyone else. Perhaps because the Canadian government continues to abuse the lands of Indigenous peoples without respect for history, tradition or environment.
This truth was highlighted again on April 29th when the largest oil spill of the past thirty-five years in Alberta spilled out onto the land of the Lubicon Cree. The Lubicon never ceded their land to the Canadian government, but this has not stopped logging and oil companies from exploiting the community’s resources. In Alberta, companies are ‘self-regulating’ in terms of environmental regulation. Imagine how effective that is.
Canadians need to listen more carefully to Indigenous peoples. We need to learn about the history, way of life and current struggles of the country’s first inhabitants. We need to challenge current approaches and insist that human rights be respected for all Canada’s citizens.
And there’s one more small concrete thing we can do:
We can make a banner. Kairos, the social justice organization of 11 Canadian churches, is calling on Canadians to participate in their ‘Roll with the Declaration’ campaign and send banners to Ottawa for June 20th. The 2 x 4 banners, calling on the Canadian Government to respect the rights of Indigenous peoples, will be collected this week at train stations across Canada. In Ottawa they will be attached together with Velcro to make an eye catching statement of solidarity.
My banner is almost done. Will you join me?
More information on the June 20th celebration as well as how to make a simple banner (and where to deliver it) is available at www.kairoscanada.org.