September 28, 2021

On behalf of our Officers and our staff, we want to take the time today to acknowledge the first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation taking place on September 30.

As part of our commitment to the spirit of truth and reconciliation, we are observing this day by closing our office. While our admin staff will be off, the Officers/Servicing Representatives will be available to respond by phone or e-mail with any situations that arise.

Some of our sites will have the paid day off depending on the language in the collective agreement, others will continue to work their regularly scheduled shift. For the few employers that have chosen not to respect the clear language of the collective agreement regarding statutory holidays, we will be proceeding to arbitration as quickly as we can to have the day paid for.

USW Local 2009 is extremely disappointed that the importance of reconciliation of First Nations issues is obviously lost on this group of employers. USW Local 2009 and its employers have strong ties to First Nations through either their own members/employees or through contracted work particularly in the forest industry. It is incumbent on all of us to embrace and recognize the importance of this day of remembrance.

The goal of this new annual Federal statutory holiday is to commemorate the history and ongoing trauma caused by residential schools and to honour both those who were lost as well as the survivors, families and communities who continue to grieve.

The residential school system caused harm to generations of indigenous children and communities and reconciliation must be more than just apologies. USW Local 2009 believe that it is important to recognize the profound impact residential schools had on First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples.

Reconciliation must be about both everyday actions and bold moves. Reconciliation is a long-term commitment that requires the engagement of all. It is made up of many actions, apologies, commissions, family conversations, school assemblies, community collaborations, conversations with colleagues, friendships, distinction-based policy changes, infrastructure support and commemorations.

Accepting the observation of the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation as a statutory holiday before being forced to do so by the Labour Board highlights a firm commitment that together we can do better. In light of society increasing its call for social justice this one day provides an opportunity to together build a future that is inclusive and respectful.

Remembrance Day recognizes the selfless sacrifices that veterans made to a global effort against oppression is appropriate and the right thing to do. Shining a light on a dark history of oppression of our own making is also the right thing to do.

Supporting the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation as a statutory holiday commits to our priorities. It proves that this issue is important to employers, unions and employees and we should be paying attention to it not just on this day, but throughout the year. Just as Remembrance Day is not only for veterans, a National Day for Truth and Reconciliation is not only for first nations, Inuit and Métis peoples. Just as we honour veterans and highlight our values as a nation on Remembrance Day, we should honour survivors and those lost on the national day for truth and reconciliation, but also reflect on our path as a nation, on our values, on how our values have shifted and on what we want our country to value in the future.

To refuse to recognize and honour the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation simply because it is yet to be proclaimed by the provincial government is an abandonment of social responsibility. USW Local 2009 strongly urges those employers to seriously reconsider their position.

We hope that all of our members, whether they remain at work on September 30 or have that day off to learn more about why we have the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation.

It is important for all of us to take the opportunity to reflect on the history of our country and do our part to educate ourselves and those around us and stand up for the rights of Indigenous peoples. Below are some links to resources that may help your understanding of reconciliation:

National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation

How to watch and listen to National Day for Truth and Reconciliation on CBC

Gord Downie & Chanie Wenjack Fund.

Bent Arrow Presents Orange Shirt Day

National Day for Truth and Reconciliation

Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada: Calls to Action

Reclaiming Power and Place: The Final Report of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls

In solidarity - USW Local 2009 Officers

 

 

 

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