June 22nd, 2015

Statement by Andrea Horwath on National Aboriginal Day

New Democrats join with indigenous Ontarians to celebrate National Aboriginal Day.

Today is an opportunity to celebrate the proud legacy of Canada’s Indigenous people and the fundamental contributions of our First Peoples to our culture. It is also an opportunity to reflect on the injustices done to aboriginal people and to re-commit ourselves as a society to addressing these wrongs.

This year’s National Aboriginal Day follows closely on the release of the conclusion of the formal work by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Thanks to this work the world now knows more about the pain that the survivors of the Indian residential schools were forced to endure.

New Democrats hope that survivors, their families and the communities forever changed by this terrible legacy can find some peace as the formal work of the Commission ends.

I am hopeful that this is the beginning of a new journey and that governments all across Canada, including Ontario, will be constructive participants in that journey.

The findings of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission demonstrate more than simply a historical wrong. They demonstrate an ongoing failure to live up to our responsibilities to care for every person in our province. There are First Nations communities in Ontario that still lack access to reliable electricity, clean drinking water, proper education, healthcare and good-paying jobs 

It is unacceptable that there are people living in third-world conditions in a province as wealthy as ours.

It is incumbent upon all of us to not allow this report from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission to gather dust on a shelf.

This report should be taken as a call to action. It should drive us to recommit to building a stronger relationship – as equals – with First Nations governments and indigenous peoples. New Democrats remain committed to this work.

We owe it to all of those who suffered and continue to suffer to continue to work to build a better future together with our indigenous partners – A future based on mutual respect, equality and truth.

Canada, Ontario and all of our citizens will be better for it. 

Today let us commit to each do our part in this great and historic journey of reconciliation.

Today, and every day, let’s celebrate the rich and vibrant tapestry that is indigenous culture. It is, after all, a culture that is so foundational to the creation of our uniquely Canadian way of life.

On behalf of Ontario’s New Democrats, I am honoured to join with Indigenous people in Ontario to celebrate National Aboriginal Day.