·  Statement   ·  

National Aboriginal Day – Ken Neumann Statement

On June 21, Canadians are asked to celebrate the contributions of Aboriginal peoples. We have a lot to celebrate. We also have a lot of catching up to do, in terms of offering respect and reconciliation.

We live on Aboriginal land. As a result of treaties and other, less respectful processes, generations of settlers from other countries and cultures have made their homes and earned a living on that soil. 

Aboriginal Canadians suffered great harm and loss over those decades of contact. Successive Canadian governments broke treaty commitments, exploited famines and epidemics, and created a system of residential schools which Canada's Truth and Reconciliation Commission characterizes as cultural genocide. This miserable legacy is the cause of today's rampant unemployment and economic distress, high rates of missing and murdered Aboriginal women, and high rates of incarceration, children in foster care, and poor physical and mental health.

Through all of this, Aboriginal Canadians persevere. They seek their rightful place in our society, on terms they define.

Our union will hold its first national consultation workshop for Aboriginal Steelworkers, July 20-21 in Winnipeg. This will be an opportunity for Aboriginal members of our union to talk about their experiences as workers and trade unionists. It will be a time for them to describe the place they want to take within the United Steelworkers. I'll be there to listen to them, and I encourage USW local unions to register their Aboriginal delegates as soon as possible.

I salute the contributions of Aboriginal Steelworkers and of all of Canada's Aboriginal peoples. Let's acknowledge the past and move forward on a basis of respect.

Ken Neumann
USW National Director

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