CAW National Council 4000
Human Rights

CAW National Executive Board Statement on
June 21 National Aboriginal Peoples Day

The CAW joins Aboriginal Peoples in celebration of June 21, National Aboriginal Peoples' Day. In commemorating this day, we pay
tribute to the unparalleled contributions of Aboriginal peoples in the development of Canada and their ongoing contributions as First
People. We also recognize the strength and determination of our Aboriginal sisters and brothers working in solidarity with the
labour movement.

June 21st is the summer solstice, marked for centuries by many Aboriginal communities as a day to celebrate their heritage. In
1996, the Parliament of Canada proclaimed June 21 as National Aboriginal Peoples Day. For us, it is a day to express our solidarity
with aboriginal people as well as a day to recognize and educate ourselves on diverse Aboriginal cultures.

The last century saw an increasing militancy amongst Aboriginal people as their frustration grew over the land claim issues, poverty
and cultural devastation faced by their communities.

To solve problems faced by our Aboriginal People, we must recognize that their rights are inalienable. The treaties signed should
not be dismissed as ancient pieces of paper, but must be the basis of any relationship between our First People and the rest of
Canada. The treaties represented a commitment to protect the economic self-sufficiency and cultural independence of Aboriginal
Peoples and hopefully an end to conflict and an end to second class status.

The fundamental collective human rights of Aboriginal Peoples as People, including their right to a self-government, right to
economic development and right to negotiate with all levels of government, must be recognized and respected in accordance with
the law.

The economic development for Aboriginal communities must be a priority for us. The economic gap between aboriginal communities
and the rest of the country has been continuously widening. The tragedy of the unemployment rate, especially amongst youth and
the increasing suicide rate points to the despair. Most Aboriginal people are at or below the poverty line. In major western cities,
four times as many Aboriginal people as other citizens are below the poverty line.

Canadians collectively need to acknowledge that years of oppression being inflicted on Aboriginal People have resulted in the
systematic destruction of communities, where they have little or poor access to housing, health care and social services. We also
have to address the issues surrounding the tragedy of the Canadian Native "residential Schools" and the legacy it left, and pain it
inflicted then and continues to inflict now on aboriginal people.

In order to address the above challenges, the CAW is committed to working together with organizations who represent voices of
Aboriginal communities to address systemic racism in all aspects of society. The CAW will continue to work with organizations who
represent voices of the Aboriginal communities, in support of the ongoing struggle for social justice and equality for First People.

We in the labour movement must raise our voices louder in partnership with Aboriginal people calling for solutions and demanding
increased efforts on the part of the federal government to address the legitimate claims of the Aboriginal peoples and the
desperate need for access to jobs, housing, healthcare, childcare and education.

Issued July 24, 2002 by the CAW NEB,
Port Elgin, Ontario

Source:  CAW Human Rights Department