National Day of Reconciliation – June 11, 2009
Two weeks from today, June 11, will mark the one-year anniversary of the Prime Minister’s Apology on behalf of the Government of Canada to Indian Residential School Survivors.The Prime Minister spoke strongly and movingly, and declared that all Canadians will join us on our journey of healing. To mark the anniversary of the Apology, the Assembly of First Nations is organizing a National Day of Reconciliation for June 11. It will be a day to assess what has and has not happened over the past year, and to talk about how we as a country can put meaningful action to the many fine words that have been given to First Nations by way of apologies for the residential school era.
We once again offer our hand to work in partnership with the governments, the Churches, and the people of Canada to make this country a better place for First Nation people, and all Canadians.
This is a time for all Canadians to ask: What can our community do to mark the National Day of Reconciliation?
At 11 a.m. on June 11th, we are asking every church in the country to ring their bells as a show of solidarity with First Nations. We also want First Nations leaders – indeed, any concerned Canadian – to organize events and activities that will help educate Canadians about our peoples, our cultures, our goals and aspirations, and the urgent priority to eradicate First Nations poverty.
We want to work with all levels of government on a comprehensive plan that lifts First Nations out of poverty.
We want all levels of government to address equal funding for schools on First Nations.
We want all levels of government to tackle the inequity facing our child welfare agencies.
Action on these matters is one step towards bringing First Nations to the same quality of life that other Canadians enjoy.
We invite labour unions, church members, students and youth, federal and provincial governments, the private sector and all who believe in justice and fairness to work with us in finding ways to address these confounding/systemic problems.
This requires First Nations to reach out to their neighbours for help to address these complex issues. The Day of Reconciliation can be marked off as the day Canadians came together to start the process of understanding one another and working together.
In Ottawa, we will begin the day with a sunrise ceremony on Victoria Island and will march in solidarity to Parliament Hill with church leaders, politicians, youth and Elders, men and women and Canadians from all walks of life.
This June 11th, we are asking Canadians to join us in the in the call to eliminate poverty for First Nations. We’ve welcomed the apologies. Now we want to work together and take action.
Please see the attached Information Sheet that you can distribute in your area.
The Assembly of First Nations (AFN) and First Nations people across the country call on all Canadians to join with us for the National Day of Reconciliation, Thursday June 11, 2009.
June 11th marks the one-year anniversary of the Government of Canada’s apology to First Nations for the attitudes and policies that led to the Indian residential schools.
We are calling on the Government of Canada to work with First Nations to protect our children, invest in our future, and respect our responsibilities to one another. We invite all Canadians to join us in putting forth a strong, clear call for action to the federal government.
We are calling on the Government of Canada to…
Protect Our Children:
• At least 40 First Nation communities have no schools, while half of all schools need repairs. First Nations children receive 30 per cent less funding for education than other Canadian children. We are calling for fairness in funding to First Nations children.
• At least 27,000 First Nations children are in state care as a direct result of poverty – this is three times as many children as were in care during the height of the residential schools.
• First Nations child welfare systems are under-funded compared to provincial systems. This leaves our children vulnerable and at risk. We are calling for fairness in funding for First Nations child welfare.
Invest in Our Future:
• More than half of the 800,000 First Nations people in Canada are under the age of 25. We are Canada’s future workforce and the key to a productive and prosperous Canada.
• We must end the shameful conditions that exist in too many First Nations communities, conditions like overcrowded and unsafe housing, dangerous drinking water, and crumbling infrastructure.
• We must use stimulus and infrastructure funding to invest in healthy environments for our children and all our people. Investing now is the responsible thing to do for all Canadians.
Respect Our Responsibilities to One Another:
• Show respect for First Nations by implementing the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
• Work with First Nations to bring honour to the Treaties, to resolve long-standing land claims and to share in the riches of this land.
• Work with First Nations to end mismanagement and poor planning by the federal bureaucracy. We need a new system that is dedicated to creating happy, healthy communities through education, economic investment, and self-government.
Strong First Nations will make a stronger Canada!