In 2009, June was declared Aboriginal History Month, a chance to highlight the phenomenal achievements of Indigenous artists, activists, and communities from coast to coast to coast.
The list of people to shine that light on is endless. There's Romeo Saganash legislating in the House of Commons short decades after being kidnapped to attend Residential School. There's A Tribe Called Red, remixing the dominant culture to assert a space for Indigenous perspectives. There's Buffy Sainte-Marie and Tanya Tagaq collaborating across generations to deliver an inspiring message to communities shaken by suicides. We have Jessica Gordon, Sylvia McAdam, and Nina Wilson igniting an international Idle No More Movement using the power of the social media and connection.
But I know that all of these people had to fight harder than they should have to get where they are. And as I sat down to write this statement, all I could think is that we are living through Aboriginal History right now. Framing things through the lens of history gives non-Indigenous Canadians a comfortable distance from the injustices that not only stretch back to the founding of this country, but continue to this day.
Nothing will change as long as we approach things that way. We need to get uncomfortable. We need to realize we have an opportunity to be on the right side of history now, and that chance is slipping away from us.
It has been two years since the closing event of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in Ottawa. Two years since Canadians were asked to confront the brutality and racial discrimination that run thick through our history.
We can’t ask Indigenous communities to wait any longer. That is why I am committed to leading an NDP that takes decolonization seriously and begins a true Nation to Nation relationship immediately.