A statement from PSAC’s National Aboriginal Peoples Circle
On June 21st, Indigenous Peoples in Canada celebrate National Aboriginal Day – the longest day of the year and a traditional day of celebration for our communities. On this day we call on the federal government to make good on its commitment to reconciliation and justice.
PSAC is launching our #ThirstyforJustice campaign today, to urge the federal government to provide safe drinking water for all Indigenous Peoples.
Last year at this time, we were planning for a federal election, hoping that we would defeat a government that had neglected and disregarded the needs of Indigenous Peoples for so long.
This year we have a new responsibility -- to make sure that the Liberal government lives up to the promises made during the election campaign:
- Implement all 94 Truth and Reconciliation Commission recommendations.
- Spend $40 million over four years on the Nutrition North program.
- Build a renewed nation-to-nation relationship with the Métis Nation to further Métis self-government.
- Increase funding for First Nations schools.
- End the violence against Indigenous women and girls.
Water is life
The Liberal government also pledged to end boil-water advisories on First Nations reserves within the next five years. More than 100 Indigenous communities in Canada currently have no access to safe drinking water. Human Rights Watch just released a comprehensive report on this gross national injustice.
In April, we visited the community of Grassy Narrows in Northwestern Ontario where a state of emergency has been called because the water crisis is so severe. We met with Indigenous activists who have been advocating for clean water, for more than 40 years, ever since a pulp and paper company dumped 12 tonnes of mercury into the river system that runs through their nation. The tap water was recently declared unsafe to drink.
We are inspired by the spirit and dedication of the many residents of Grassy Narrows who continue to organize, rally and build relationships with allies as they challenge provincial and federal governments.
We urge all PSAC members to engage in this campaign. Let us demonstrate to First Nations, Métis and Inuit peoples that they do not stand alone in fighting for true reparations and reconciliation.
On the longest day of 2016 we will also celebrate something new – the possibility that change is on its way and that there is hope for a better future for our children.