National Indigenous Peoples Day 2021
June 21, 2021
National Indigenous Peoples Day is a time to honour the heritage, stories and experiences of Canada’s First Nations, Inuit and Metis People that make up our country’s cultural mosaic. It is a time to recognize incredible work of Indigenous leaders, artists, athletes, teachers and innovators throughout history who have paved the way for progress and advocated for equal opportunity.
National Indigenous Peoples Day also provides an opportunity for the necessary reflection on the darker parts of Canada’s history – parts which have been ignored for far too long.
The recent and tragic discoveries of the 215 Indigenous children in Kamloops and 104 children in Brandon has brought attention the atrocities faced by Indigenous Peoples, and encouraged deeper, meaningful discourse on how to address the enduring harm perpetuated by generations of discrimination.
In honour of the #215children, this year’s National Indigenous Peoples Day is dedicated to each and every innocent life impacted by Canada’s Residential School system – A system which which failed to protect human lives and instead, sought to strip away Indigenous culture through emotional and physical abuse.
Alongside the national and provincial affiliates of Canada’s Building Trades Unions, Manitoba Building Trades stands in solidarity with the families and survivors of Canada’s Residential Schools. We share our deepest sympathies and support their call to the Federal Government to prioritize the investigation of Residential Schools across Canada so that truth and closure may be brought to grieving communities.
It is also important to address the individual role we all play as an organization in furthering inclusivity at home and on the job.
Since 1909 Manitoba Building Trades has actively been involved in the development of our province. We acknowledge our participation in an industry that has in the past too often brought harm to Indigenous communities through environmental impacts and community health, particularly within the history of northern hydroelectric projects.
For many years, skilled trades workers would be granted access to job opportunities in or near Indigenous communities while Indigenous Peoples were excluded from economic participation. Skilled trade workers would financially profit and move on to the next project, with many impacts on the environment or the local peoples quickly forgotten.
At MBT we refuse to continue to participate in this destructive model of infrastructure development. On this understanding, we take our commitment to reconciliation incredibly seriously and have intertwined this commitment in all of our actions, advocacy, and programs as a trades union moving forward.
We are actively committed to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Call to Action #92 which calls upon the corporate sector to: “ensure that Aboriginal Peoples have equitable access to jobs, training, and education opportunities in the corporate sector and…. provide education for management and staff on the history of Aboriginal peoples, including the history and legacy of residential schools, the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Treaties and Aboriginal rights, Indigenous law, and Aboriginal-Crown relations… conflict resolution, human rights, and anti-racism.”
We also understand that meaningful collaboration is built on a foundation of shared understanding and an openness gain new perspectives. Manitoba Building Trades is committed to:
- Listening, learning, unlearning, and working to overcome systemic and interpersonal bias and prejudice through Indigenous awareness training for board members and staff.
- Increasing awareness and access to skilled trades jobs for Indigenous youth through in-person and remote trade exploration and immersion sessions at the Manitoba Building Trades Exhibition Hall.
- Investing heavily in training facilities and programs that provide foundational career and construction trades knowledge from which indigenous peoples can build their construction career.
- Working with government and private industry to mitigate and address barriers to apprenticeship completion for indigenous skilled trade workers.
- Providing access to employment through negotiated Community Benefits Agreements that have an Indigenous first hiring policy.
- Continuing to support Indigenous workers so they may advance in their skilled trade careers, both in opportunity and wages.
These actions are admittedly a very small contribution to a very large issue. The recognition of our past treatment of Indigenous Peoples and the healing of this relationship will be essential for Canada and its Indigenous nations to thrive moving forward. We will continue to fight for the inclusion of Indigenous workers and their voices in our industry and beyond.
CEO – Manitoba Building Trades