Thoughts on Indigenous Peoples Day

On this inaugural National Indigenous Peoples Day, I raise my hands up to Elders, Survivors, intergenerational survivors and leaders and warriors both young and old across these lands we now call Canada. Today is a day to recognize your strengths and the strengths of those that have come before you. It is particularly poignant to recognize these strengths in this 150th year of confederation - Canada’s founding fathers didn’t desire nor would have expected to have seen such resiliency nor vibrancy of cultures, teachings and spirit in 2017. 

Today is a day of celebration, but also one in which we must acknowledge the ongoing challenges that must urgently be addressed. My heart is with the families of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, the Wapekeka First Nation (who lost 12-year-old Jenera Roundsky last week), and those that continue to feel the impacts of colonial policies and practices that have created and perpetuated divides and disparities - 135 First Nations communities are currently living under boil water advisories, the Jordan’s Principle has yet to be fully implemented by the federal government and Indigenous youth continue to be disproportionately represented in Canada’s child welfare system. Meaningful reconciliation must involve addressing these realities. 

On this day let us all reaffirm our commitment to reconciliation, revitalization and renewal. We all have a role to play in ensuring an inclusive, equitable and just future for current generations and generations to come.

Alexander Dirksen