Accepting our culpability in our nation’s tragic history is a key aspect of moving forward. In this article, Denise Hampden speaks on the role unions and union members played in Indian Residential Schools, Indian Day Schools, the Indian Hospital system and the Sixties Scoop.
The prosperity of this country is built on a history of oppression and genocide of Indigenous peoples. It can be said that all Canadians have directly benefited from this genocide as the land we inhabit was stolen from Indigenous peoples. In order to move forward on the path to true and meaningful reconciliation, all settlers must acknowledge their role in the colonial construct of our nation. Unions are not exempt.
Unions are now finding ways to show solidarity with the struggles of Indigenous peoples, which is an important step, but we must always ask ourselves whether we are doing enough. Though outward expressions of support are important, so is the internal work we do to acknowledge our role in our dark history and to actively decolonize our organization.
“I’m going to say it plainly. Union members were involved in the building, the maintenance and the horrors that took place in Indian Residential Schools, Indian Day Schools and Indian Hospitals in Canada from 1828 to 2000. And they were and still are participants in the Sixties Scoop, the present-day child “welfare” system and birth alerts. Unions are still participants (albeit involuntary ones) in the destruction of First Nations, Métis and Inuit peoples and their lives.”
Read “Speak the Truth Even if Your Voice Shakes” to learn more.