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Canada: Justice for Indigenous Peoples

Tuesday 22 June 2021, by siawi3


Justice for Indigenous Peoples


Canadian Council of Muslim Women

National Indigenous History Month this year began with the tragic news that the remains of the bodies of 215 Indigenous children were found buried on the grounds of the Kamloops Indian Residential School. The horrors of that shocking discovery loom large today as we mark National Indigenous Peoples Day. June 21 is a day for all Canadians to recognize and celebrate the unique heritage, diverse cultures and outstanding contributions of First Nations, Métis and Inuit Peoples. There is much to celebrate today but our hearts are heavy.

Our hearts are heavy because the residential school system is not just a ’chapter’ in our country’s history but a foundational part of colonial violence against Indigenous Peoples that continues to this day.

Settler society was built upon ongoing generational trauma and all settlers have benefited either directly or indirectly from attempts to erase the history of colonial violence. As settlers, we carry the weight of the impact of residential schools on generations of Indigenous families. We carry the weight of Indigenous communities being landless, dispersed and relegated to poverty. We carry the weight of knowing that the provision of basic services, such as clean drinking water and sanitation is not a priority for their communities. We carry the weight that so many Indigenous women, girls and two-spirit people experience staggeringly high rates of violence and are missing and murdered. We carry the weight that so many Indigenous people experience discrimination and racism on a daily basis. That so many live in such despair and despondency that suicide seems like their only option, their only way to escape. These are not just dark chapters in history, this is the Indigenous reality of today. This is how First Nations, Métis and Inuit Peoples of Canada live today.

As settlers, we are complicit in these injustices. It is our collective responsibility to put an end to the ongoing colonialism and genocide that our governments are responsible for through their actions and inaction. As intergenerational trauma, ongoing harms and discriminatory practices continue, it is the responsibility of all settlers living on these lands to ensure justice and accountability not only for the 215 children whose bodies are buried at the Kamloops Indian Residential School, but for all First Nations, Métis and Inuit Peoples.

As we honour this day with solidarity for Indigenous communities, we must also unite in outrage at the ongoing violence of colonialism and demand justice from our government and leaders. We must take an active role in reconciliation and let federal and provincial leaders and elected representatives know that we want to see real commitments and concrete action. It is up to us to ensure that reconciliation and de-colonization proceed from discussion to meaningful action so that one day we can truly stand together with the original peoples of this land.

Let us not remain silent as more shocking residential school discoveries are made, as more women and girls disappear, as more Indigenous voices are silenced and families and communities displaced, all while their lands continue to be unsustainably exploited and poisoned for profit. Today we grieve all these grave injustices and we grieve the idea of Canada being a warm, welcome and open country.

CCMW stands in solidarity with First Nations, Métis and Inuit Peoples. We reaffirm our commitment to reconciliation and to fighting for truth and justice for them.

Join us in this fight by writing to all levels of government today to urge action for Indigenous communities.

Here are some other ways you can help today and every day.

Happy National Indigenous Peoples Day.

In Solidarity.