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Step into June and celebrate Indigenous History Month

Indigenous rights are human rights, and human rights are workers’ rights. AUPE members are advocating for reconciliation in our workplaces and communities

May 30, 2024

By Raphaël Boutroy, Communications Staff

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June marks National Indigenous History Month on the land we now call Canada. We take this month as an opportunity to honour the history, heritage, culture, and achievements of First Nations, Inuit, and Métis peoples.  

AUPE strives to be a part of reconciliation. Vice-President Bobby-Joe Borodey, who chairs the union’s Human Rights Committee (HRC) insists on the importance: “As a union, we have a duty to create an inclusive and supportive place for all our members. The efforts made for Truth and Reconciliation are efforts to defend the rights of all.”  

Jessica Pope is a member of the Human Rights Committee and has been an AUPE member for more than 18 years, initially joining Local 012 as a Surface Water Quality Technologist. Today, she is a member of Local 002 Chapter 002 and works as a Community Based Monitoring Program Coordinator. As an Indigenous person, she looks to the month of June as an opportunity to take another step towards reconciliation. 

“A lot of the things we have today we have thanks to Indigenous peoples,” says Pope. “There is value in identifying and honouring those Indigenous roots.”  

“As a union, we have a duty to create an inclusive and supportive place for all our members. The efforts made for Truth and Reconciliation are efforts to defend the rights of all.”
Bobby-Joe Borodey 2023

Bobby-Joe Borodey, AUPE Vice-President

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Many employers in Alberta chose not to honour these roots when the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation was created. Several AUPE members’ collective agreements guarantee recognition of federal holidays, but employers were reluctant to properly recognize the new holiday. 

AUPE members took action. We persuaded many employers into doing the right thing, and in some cases shamed them into doing the right thing. Now, the day is recognized as a stat holiday at many worksites. 

The Human Rights Committee also organized an event to honour the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation at AUPE’s headquarters in Edmonton. 

“To be a part of an organization that supports Indigenous culture and walks the walk with respect to truth and reconciliation is very important. I also think that it shows solidarity, not only among members but also among the communities that make up the union.” 

Jessica Pope, member of the Human Rights Committee

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“This past September we raised an Every Child Matters Flag during our Truth and Reconciliation Day event at AUPE headquarters, and it has flown there ever since,” says Borodey. “We want to bring these flags as well as plaques acknowledging treaty lands to each of our offices.” 

Encouraged by the union’s efforts, Pope says: “To be a part of an organization that supports Indigenous culture and walks the walk with respect to truth and reconciliation is very important. I also think that it shows solidarity, not only among members but also among the communities that make up the union.”  

Making education a priority  

To build solidarity, we must start with education. To that end, the committee is organizing a contest which will run throughout Indigenous History Month. Members can participate by visiting the committee’s Facebook page and answering questions related to Indigenous history and culture.  

"Our goal is to get members thinking and talking about Indigenous history, recognizing it is a key part of the world we live in today,” says Borodey.  

Pope encourages people to keep learning, to keep asking questions, and to keep attending events. 

“Everyone is at a different step in the journey towards reconciliation,” she says. “Like any culture, I would encourage people not to paint everyone with the same brush. There are beautiful things waiting to be experienced in every culture.”  

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