Today, November 8th is Aboriginal Veterans Day, we honour all Indigenous Veterans as well as those who continue to contribute to Canada’s military.
‼️ HISTORY CHECK ‼️
Thousands of Aboriginal people voluntarily enlisted in the Canadian military. Although the exact enlistment number is unknown, it is estimated that 12,000 Indigenous men and women served in the three wars (WWI. WWII, Korean War). However, it wasn’t until 1995, fifty years after the Second World War that Indigenous People were allowed to lay Remembrance Day wreaths at the National War Memorial to remember and honour their deceased comrades. At the time of the First World War, First Nations were exempt from conscription because they were not considered “citizens” of Canada. After the First World War, they didn’t receive the same assistance as other soldiers under the War Veterans Allowance Act (1932 – 1936). Aboriginal soldiers had to become enfranchised before they could sign up to fight in the Second World War, which meant that when they returned to their communities, they no longer had Indian status. Many Aboriginal veterans experienced the same unequal treatment they experienced prior to the war and were not awarded the same benefits as their non-Aboriginal counterparts.
Where the parties stand on Indigenous affairs (in alphabetical order)
No specific proposals
Re-introduce legislation to put UNDRIP in Canadian law
Implement all calls to action from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls Inquiry
Implement recommendations of the 1996 Report of the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples
Dismantle the Indian Act, while allowing self-governing Indigenous communities to “opt out” of the Act while the dismantling process unfolds
Formally repudiate the doctrine of terra nullius, the doctrine of discovery
Add representatives from First Nations, Métis, and Inuit governments to the Council of Canadian Governments
Implement the lands claims agreements that are already negotiated
Upgrade infrastructure to end drinking water and boil water advisories
Implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) as Canadian law
Eliminate all long-term drinking water advisories on reserve by 2021
Introduce legislation for “distinctions-based” health care for Indigenous people, emphasizing mental health, healing and long-term care
Reduce the number of Indigenous children in foster care by implementing the Act Respecting First Nations, Inuit, and Métis Children, Youth and Families
Address all critical infrastructure needs (including housing, internet and schools) in Indigenous communities by 2030
Target that at least five percent of federal contracts awarded to businesses are led by Indigenous Peoples
Expand First Nations policing and recognize it through legislation as an essential service
Fully implement the Indigenous Languages Act
New Democratic Party
Implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP)
Introduce Indigenous People’s Day as a national holiday
Work with Indigenous peoples to co-develop a National Action Plan for Reconciliation, drawing directly from the Calls to Action and the Declaration to ensure that Canada’s laws, policies, and practices are consistent with Canada’s human rights commitments
Establish a National Council for Reconciliation to provide oversight and accountability for reconciliation process, reporting regularly to Parliament and Canadians
Co-develop the federal government’s Arctic Policy Framework through shared governance within the Inuit-Crown Partnership Committee, including through the adoption of an Inuit Nunangat policy in full partnership with Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami
Establish a National Day for Truth and Reconciliation
Establish Indigenous history education programs for all Canadians, based on the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action 62 and 63
Invest $1.8 billion to lift all drinking water advisories by 2021
Spend $19 million to fund a mercury poisoning treatment centre in Grassy Narrows
Resume and expand rural and remote bus routes and passenger rail service
Ensure that Indigenous-led, culturally-appropriate home care and long-term care is available for Elders
Create a Northern Infrastructure Fund to fast-track investment and focus on improving much-needed infrastructure like roads and broadband internet for communities in the north
Establish a comprehensive, plan to address violence against Indigenous women, girls and LGBTQ2+ people
Ensure full gender equality for First Nations status
Orange shirt day is a movement that officially began in 2013 but in reality, it began in 1973 when six-year-old Phyllis Webstad entered the St. Joseph Mission Residential School, outside of Williams Lake, BC. Young. Webstad was wearing a brand new orange shirt for her first day of school – new clothes being a rare and wonderful thing for a First Nation girl growing up in her grandmother’s care – but the Mission Oblates quickly stripped her of her new shirt and replaced it with the school’s institutional uniform. Even though she only attended the residential school for a year the impact affected Ms. Webstad’s life for many years. She went to a treatment center for healing when she was 27 and has been on this healing journey ever since. “I finally get it, that feeling of worthlessness and insignificance, ingrained in me from my first day at the mission, affected the way I lived my life for many years. Even now, when I know nothing could be further than the truth, I still sometimes feel that I don’t matter.” Phyllis Webstads story is one of many residential school survivors, and today we wear orange shirts for each and every single one of them as well as those who who are unfortunately not with us anymore.
Orange shirt day is a day devised to educate people and promote awareness about the Residential School System and the impact this system had on Indigenous communities for more than a century in Canada as well as the continued impact of this system within Indigenous communities. Orange Shirt Day is held on September 30 in Canada with students and staff being encouraged to wear an orange shirt to school that day.
Why is September 30th orange shirt day?
September 30th falls during the time of year when Indigenous children were taken away from their homes and put into residential schools.
Why an orange shirt?
The “orange shirt” in Orange Shirt Day refers to the new shirt that Phyllis Webstad was given to her by her grandmother for her first day of school at St. Joseph’s Mission residential school in British Columbia. When Webstad got to the residential school, she was stripped of her clothes, including her orange shirt and it was never returned. To Phyllis, the colour orange has always reminded her of her experiences at the residential school.
What does Orange Shirt day represent?
The message that Phyllis Webstad wants to convey and pass along on Orange Shirt Day (and every day) is that every child matters. Orange Shirt Day was started by Phyllis to educate people about residential schools and fight racism as well as bullying.
Government policies and programs, including the Indian Act and the residential school system, have contributed to the increase of mental illness, inter-generational trauma and suicide attempts.Despite the last residential school having closed in 1996 there is still continued trauma within Indigenous communities. Currently, the efforts of the Canadian healthcare system are inadequate in addressing the short-term increase in suicides in Indigenous communities and the associated long-term issues. As you can see the 45 years and over age group in every single category has the lowest overall mental health.
For the 2015 to 2018 Budgets, the Government began to increase Indigenous investments, from in and around $11 billion to more than $16.8 billion. A bit of context about why Indigenous investments increased in 2015 is because that year Trudeau’s Liberal government came into power and Stephen Harper’s conservative government stepped down. Their efforts are reflected in the graph as they were committed to helping Indigenous people.This increase in Indigenous investments resulted in planned funding for Indigenous people growing from just over $11 billion in 2015 and 2016 to more than $15 billion in 2021 and 2022 (which is an increase of 34 per cent in total funding.) Which is a lot of change considering that there was a greater change in budget and attitude within only 5 to 6 years compared to the last decade where there was little to no change. Building on these previous commitments, The federal government’s budget for 2019 proposes to invest a further $4.5 billion over five years, in order to continue their efforts to close the gap between the inequalities between Indigenous Peoples and the non-Indigenous population and through these significant investments the government has lifted the 2 per cent cap on funding.