EDMONTON - "It's time the Federal government formally take responsibility for the historical injustices faced by Canada's aboriginal peoples. I see no better time than today to do that, by making this a statutory holiday," says Kerry Barrett, Secretary-Treasurer of the Alberta Federation of Labour.
"Over 300 delegates at our Convention in May felt that recognizing June 21st as a statutory holiday was a great first step for the country to take in demonstrating a commitment to its aboriginal peoples. We must acknowledge their contributions, and ensure Aboriginal peoples are afforded the same social, political and economic rights the rest of Canadians enjoy," says Barrett.
June 21st was set aside to recognize the diversity of aboriginal people and their many valued contributions to Canada. The day also highlights the struggles aboriginal people have embarked on for social justice, equality and the strength of unions and communities.
"Aboriginal people have had to battle colonial domination, and in some ways are still having to. Inequalities persist in communities and workplaces that place Aboriginal people at a distinct disadvantage," says Barrett.
"Aboriginal workers continue to have a hard time in the labour market. With an unemployment rate that is 3.6 time higher than the average Canadian worker, Aboriginal workers are also hit with a 56.4% wage gap. These workers are earning less than white workers and workers of colour in this country. For me, these are clear signals that there isn't a level playing field, and Aboriginal workers are losing ground."
"In the labour movement, the work we do to strengthen the voices of our Aboriginal brothers and sisters becomes part of the larger fight for Aboriginal rights. We, too, have an obligation to address the injustices faced by our Aboriginal members in their workplaces and within their communities," says Barrett.
The Federation has affirmative action positions on its executive council, as well as a Workers of Colour and Aboriginal Workers Working Group.
"As an organization representing labour, we support aboriginal land claims, aboriginal sovereignty and aboriginal rights to self-determination. We owe this support to our aboriginal brothers and sisters," says Barrett.
For more information, please contact: Kerry Barrett, Secretary-Treasurer @ (403) 504-5217