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Ontario Human Rights Commission joins in celebrating National Aboriginal Day

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June 20, 2013

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National Aboriginal Day is an opportunity for all Canadians to celebrate the unique culture and contributions of First Nations, Inuit and Métis Peoples in Canada. 

This year there has been a lot of attention on issues regarding Aboriginal Peoples – and that is a good thing since our nation has a long history of ignoring their legitimate rights. 

Canada signed the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples just two years ago. The Declaration makes clear that Aboriginal Peoples “have suffered from historic injustices as a result of…their colonization and dispossession of their lands, territories and resources, thus preventing them from exercising…their right to development in accordance with their own needs and interests.” 

The OHRC is committed to working with First Nations, Inuit and Métis Peoples to use our mandate under the Human Rights Code to address the systemic discrimination that affects them.

On March 8, 2013, the Canadian Association of Statutory Human Rights Agencies unanimously passed a motion calling on the Government of Canada to work with Aboriginal Peoples' organizations to develop and implement a national action plan. The plan would focus urgent attention on addressing and preventing the root causes of violence against Aboriginal women and girls, including poverty and systemic discrimination. It further calls on the Government to establish an independent and inclusive inquiry into missing and murdered Aboriginal women and girls in Canada. 

We salute the work of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in raising awareness and helping to educate all Canadians about the Residential Schools system and its tragic impacts. 

We also commend movements like “Idle No More” whose supporters draw attention to pressing issues and advocate for change. 

We call on all levels of government to meet the existing commitments and obligations to Aboriginal Peoples in Canada recognized by treaties and other agreements, the Constitution, the Supreme Court, and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.