Sisters, Brothers, Friends,
September 30 is the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, a day to honour both residential school survivors and those who never made it home. It also serves as a reminder for Canadians to reflect on the injustices that Indigenous peoples have endured over the last few hundred years.
As Canadians, we have a responsibility to acknowledge this dark chapter of our nation’s history. These institutions, backed by governments and run by churches, were meant to erase the identity of Indigenous children by forcibly removing them from their families.
One federal official wrote the schools were designed to “kill the Indian in the child.” Indeed, many children never returned to their families. Conditions were miserable in these institutions, marked by rampant disease and brutal mistreatment.
Unfortunately, but not unexpectedly, the pain did not simply vanish when the last school closed its doors. The trauma inflicted by colonialism will affect generations of Indigenous peoples. That’s on top of the quiet suffering of the tens of thousands of residential school survivors.
As Teamsters, we are committed to ensuring that Indigenous peoples have opportunities in the job market. We also strive to ensure Indigenous peoples can make a dignified living by negotiating strong collective agreements and offering help when needed. Finally, we fight all forms of discrimination, including racism and abuse in the workplace, especially against Indigenous peoples.
Though not all provinces and sectors observe this day as a statutory holiday, we hope that all Canadians will take time today to learn, listen, and take action to educate the next generation.
We must never forget.
President, Teamsters Canada
Teamsters Canada Indigenous Persons Liaison
Business Agent, Teamsters Local Union 879
Mental health supports available
Former Residential School students can call 1-866-925-4419 for emotional crisis referral services and information on health supports from the Government of Canada.
Indigenous peoples across Canada can also contact the Hope for Wellness Help Line 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for counselling and crisis intervention. Call toll-free at 1-855-242-3310 or connect to the online chat at hopeforwellness.ca.