Making Peace Vigil

Standing up for peace

NATIONAL ABORIGINAL DAY

Posted by strattof on June 19, 2016

Tuesday, June 21st, is NATIONAL ABORIGINAL DAY. First celebrated in 1996, it is a day for Canadians to recognize the cultures and achievements of First Nations, Inuit, and Métis peoples and their contributions to Canadian society.

National Aboriginal Day is also a good time to think about the dismal and ongoing legacy of colonialism and racism here in Saskatchewan and across Canada, as well as to remember all the Treaty promises that were made and have been broken.

WE ARE ALL TREATY PEOPLE

All Canadians benefit from the treaties signed between First Nations and the Crown. Regina, for example, is situated on the traditional territory of the Nehiyawak (Cree), Anishanaabe (Saulteaux), Nakota (Assiniboine), Dakota, Lakota, and Métis Nations—an area referred to by many today as Treaty 4 territory.

  • Treaty 4 was negotiated on a nation-to nation basis by the Canadian government and the Nehiyawak, Anishanaabe, and Nakota Nations. It was signed by the Nehiyawak and Anishanaabe in 1874 and by the Nakota in 1877.
  • Under Treaty 4, the Nehiyawak, Anishanaabe, and Nakota Nations agreed to share the land and resources of what is current-day southern Saskatchewan with the new-comers.
  • In return, the Canadian government made long-term commitments in a number of areas, including child welfare, education, housing, health, and water.
  • Treaty Commissioner, Alexander Morris, promised the Treaty would last “as long as the sun shines and the water flows.”
  • For the past 141 years the Nehiyawak, Anishanaabe, and Nakota Nations have kept their side of the Treaty 4 agreement. By contrast, the Canadian government, to whom the Crown entrusted its treaty responsibilities, has failed to keep the Treaty promises. 

BROKEN PROMISES: CHILD WELFARE

Last month, the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives released a report called Shameful Neglect: Indigenous Child Poverty in Canada. The figures are indeed shameful. They are also horrifying.

  • 51% of First Nations children live in poverty in Canada.
  • The poverty rate rises to 60% for children who live on-reserve.
  • The numbers are even worse for Saskatchewan, where 69% of on-reserve First Nations children live in poverty, the second highest on-reserve child poverty rate in Canada.
  • Saskatchewan also has the second highest rate of Indigenous child poverty off-reserve: 36%.
  • At the same time, Saskatchewan has the lowest non-Indigenous child poverty rate of any province: 13%.

BROKEN PROMISES: EDUCATION

RESIDENTIAL SCHOOLS: 1884 – 1996

Under Treaty 4, the government promised “to maintain a school on the reserve allotted to each band, as soon as they settle on said reserve.” Instead, the government implemented the genocidal residential school system.

All students at residential schools experienced cultural abuse. As is now well-known, many students were also subjected to physical and sexual abuse. The mortality rate at many schools was high—caused by overcrowding, poor food and sanitation.

ON-RESERVE SCHOOLS 2016

  • Some First Nations still do not have schools.
  • A child who attends school on-reserve receives 33% – 50% less funding than a child in a provincial school.
  • Many on-reserve schools are in poor condition and present health concerns. 

BROKEN PROMISES: HOUSING, WATER, AND HEALTH*

46     Percent of dwellings on Saskatchewan First Nations that are in poor condition

36     Percent of dwellings on Saskatchewan First Nations that are crowded

21     Number of Boil Water Advisories on First Nations water systems in Saskatchewan

30     Percent of First Nations water systems in Saskatchewan that have Boil Water Advisories

15     Number of Boil Water Advisories on Saskatchewan First Nations that have been in place for more than a year

39     TB incidence rate per 100,000 people on Saskatchewan First Nations, as compared to 7.5 cases per 100,000 people in the province as a whole

52     Community Well-Being Index for Saskatchewan First Nations: Scores can range from a low of 0 to a high of 100. Most non-First Nations Saskatchewan communities score in the 80s and 90s.

*Most of the above figures are taken from material provided by the Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada Office, 1827 Albert Street

YOU ARE INVITED TO

A NATIONAL ABORIGINAL DAY COMING IN PARTY

6 – 9 pm, TUESDAY JUNE 21

COLONIALISM NO MORE! SOLIDARITY CAMP, 1827 ALBERT STREET

Decolonize Gender & Sexuality: A Coming-In Party (Because Tipis Don’t have Closets)

Free supper, provided by Spring Free From Racism

A dry event—no alcohol. All Ages/Family Friendly

Diversity of gender and sexuality were one of the many casualties of Canada’s colonial imposition on Indigenous peoples. Some Indigenous Nations acknowledged the existence of as many as five diverse genders. Despite overwhelming attempts to extinguish Indigenous and LGTBQ peoples worldwide we prevail!

Join us for healing, celebration, and rewelcoming of all genders and sexualities with our urban Indigenous community. No more genocide! No More Orlandos!

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