Canada Employment and Immigration Union -
June 16, 2011

National Aboriginal Day, June 21

National Aboriginal Day is an opportunity for CEIU members to learn more about the achievements of Aboriginal Peoples and their contributions to Canada. The Assembly of First Nations (AFN) has declared June 2011 as a month of “First Nation Advocacy, Awareness and Action” and in the words of AFN Chief Shawn A-in-chut Atleo “Our goal this June is to continue to advance a greater understanding between First Nations and all Canadians…”

The Day is also an opportunity to show our solidarity with Aboriginal Peoples as they continue to push for badly needed improvements in areas such as health, housing and economic security. They face a federal government with a history of failing to provide the services required by Aboriginal communities. In one of her last reports to Parliament, former Auditor General Sheila Fraser wrote:

It is clear that living conditions are poorer on First Nations reserves than elsewhere in Canada. Analysis by Indian and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC) supports this view. The Department has developed a Community Well-Being Index based on a United Nations measure used to determine the relative living conditions of developing and developed countries. INAC uses its index to assess the relative progress in living conditions on reserves. In 2010, INAC reported that the index showed little or no progress in the well-being of First Nations communities between 2001 and 2006. Instead, the average well-being of those communities continued to rank significantly below that of other Canadian communities. Conditions on too many reserves are poor and have not improved significantly.

. . . In the audit that follows, we have again found progress to be unsatisfactory on several recommendations we have made over the past decade that are important for the lives and well-being of First Nations people.

AFN Chief Atleo called the Auditor General’s report “…a call to action to all Canadians”. On June 21, we all have an important opportunity to join in this call.

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