September 28, 2022

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

September 30 is Canada’s National Day of Truth and Reconciliation. USW Local 2009 acknowledges the underlying title and inherent rights of self-determination of Indigenous peoples, and our presence as uninvited guests in the traditional and unceded territories of the Stolo, Kwantlen, Tsawwassen, Katzie and Saliteuth Nations whom we thank for their forbearance. Indigenous groups are comprised of the First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples.  Unceded means that the land was never surrendered, relinquished or handed over in any way. The truth is that we must learn from and work alongside Indigenous peoples in order to make things right. 

September 30 was chosen as “Orange Shirt Day” by Indigenous people in 2013 to commemorate and honour the survivors of The Indian Residential School System (IRSS) and those who never returned home. At this time of year, over the course of more than 100 years, Indigenous children were forced to return to IRSS institutions where they suffered indoctrination and torture organized by the Canadian state to weaken and destroy Indigenous nations. In 2015, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (TRC) recommended that the Canadian government establish a statutory holiday so that Canadians may never forget the history and ongoing legacy of the IRSS. September 30 is now also Canada’s National Day of Truth and Reconciliation.

In solidarity with Indigenous Peoples, we mourn the loss of the children who did not make it home and honour the courageous survivors and their allies who worked for decades to break the walls of silence and denial surrounding the IRSS. On this day of solemn reflection, we acknowledge that racism and religious persecution were used to dispossess Indigenous peoples of their territories, and that we must educate ourselves about the ongoing and current impacts of colonization and genocide on Indigenous peoples. We recognize that the labour movement in Canada has not been the ally it needs to be to Indigenous peoples. We must do the urgent work of ending systemic racism by engaging in a meaningful process of reconciliation with Indigenous peoples that leads to decolonization.

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.

On September 30, we encourage workers across BC to learn, reflect, and act. 

Below are some links to resources that may help your understanding of reconciliation:

Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada: 94 Calls to Action

Calls to Action Accountability: A 2021 Status Update on Reconciliation

Sign CLC’s petition “Justice for First Nations’, Inuit, and Metis is Long Overdue”

UBC Intergenerational March to Commemorate Orange Shirt Day

C̓əsnaʔəm: The City Before the City: Discover Musqueam’s Ancient Landscape and Living Culture

“On Truth and Reconciliation: Indigenous Artist James Harry discusses his Project with SOS Village”

Britannia Community Centre Orange Shirt Day Commemoration


In solidarity - USW Local 2009 Officers



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