Justice for Aboriginal Peoples — It’s time

Why don’t you people just get over it? Why don’t you people just get over it? Why don’t you people just get over it? I have heard that for most of my life. Over the course of the next few minutes we’d
like to answer that question. Let’s go back to when all of this started
. . . Before the year 1492, before “Columbus sailed
the ocean blue”, there were complex systems of government, trade, agriculture and spirituality. On both sides of the ocean. On both sides of the ocean. On the side that we refer to
as Turtle Island, what is more commonly referred to as North
America, It is estimated that we were as many as
20 million Indigenous Peoples. The Europeans knew nothing about us . . . and
we knew nothing about them. Then Christopher Columbus got lost. And so it began. And in this new beginning . . . things weren’t so bad! We learned from each other and traded goods that we both needed. We taught Europeans how to survive in the
New World. We were guides. We shared our foods: corn, squash, beans,
potatoes. We shared our medicines. We shared the land. We signed peace and friendship treaties that
were about . . . well . . . peace and friendship! We fought wars, together as allies. Some of us fought with the French. Some of us fought with the British. And after the British were victorious on the
Plains of Abraham . . . things began to change. They wanted to segregate us from the thousands upon thousands of immigrants who were coming to the new colonies. So they started to push us from our traditional territories onto reserves. In the west, we were left with little choice. The Hudson Bay Company killed all the Buffalo. We were starved onto the reserve. In Upper and Lower Canada they wanted to sign more treaties. Not treaties about peace and friendship . . . but treaties about land ownership and title that forced us onto the reserve. As time wore on they kept coming back for
more. More land for settlers. More land for mining. More land for forestry. More land for oil. And as time wore on . . . we continued to
resist. So the Colonizers switched tactics. Instead of segregation, they tried to assimilate us into their society and culture. They passed laws, such as this one in 1857 – An Act to Encourage the Gradual Civilization of Indian Tribes. Or this one in 1869 – An Act for the gradual
enfranchisement of Indians. And then in 1876, the most racist piece of
legislation of them all – The Indian Act. Duncan Campbell Scott, head of the department of Indian Affairs said it all: “I want to get rid of the Indian problem”. These laws had a tremendous impact on our people. If an Aboriginal Woman married a non-Aboriginal man, she lost her identity. If we went to universities, we lost our identities. If we served in the armed forces, we lost
our identity. We weren’t allowed to perform our ceremonies, like the potlatch, which was our way of sharing our things equally. And then . . . they did the unthinkable. They took away our children. They took away our children. The Residential School System was an attempted act of genocide against my People. And still we resisted. We fought back. And we’re still here. Remember when I said they starved us onto reserves? Today they’re trying to starve us off the
reserves. They’re trying to make life in our communities unbearable. In every measure, Aboriginal Peoples fare
much worse than other Canadians. We have a shorter life expectancy. We have higher levels of poverty – one in
four Aboriginal children live in poverty. We have higher rates of suicide. We are four times more likely to contract
tuberculosis. Our diabetes rates are three times the national average. 42 percent of our children lack basic dental
care. 116 First Nation communities are currently under boil-water advisories. We represent only 2.7 percent of the adult
population in Canada, but 18 percent of the federal prison population. Our high schools receive $2000 less per student per year than provincially funded schools. Nearly 600 Aboriginal women have been murdered or have gone missing in the last 15 years. These are the reasons we can’t . . . we won’t. . . “just get over it”. I am an Indigenous person. I’m an Indigenous person. And I’m a union member. And I’m a union member. And we think it’s time to take the next step
forward in the relationship between Canada and Aboriginal Peoples. It’s time for Canada to stop its attempts
to assimilate us into the general population. It’s time to walk down the path of reconciliation. Reconciliation Reconciliation Please join us. Join the Justice for Aboriginal Peoples Campaign.

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