June 20th, 2024

Ontario NDP statement for National Indigenous Peoples Day 2024

QUEEN’S PARK— Leader of the Official Opposition NDP, Marit Stiles, and Deputy Leader Sol Mamakwa, Critic for Indigenous & Treaty Relations shared statements ahead of National Indigenous Peoples Day.

“Today, we recognize the Indigenous peoples who have lived on the lands of what is now Canada since time immemorial, and to celebrate our ways of life and languages as Indigenous peoples, which we have sustained through centuries of colonialism, racism and genocide,” said Mamakwa.

“We also acknowledge the continued trauma and losses our communities face as an ongoing consequence of colonial and assimilationist policies. For decades, governments have tried to take our languages and ways of life away from us. Children forced into Indian Residential Schools were not allowed to speak their languages, and oftentimes would be punished if they did. We still hear reports that kids in the care system are being denied their right to speak their own language. And until this spring, it was deemed ‘out of order’ for me to speak in my language at this very Legislature.

“I have been reflecting on a special moment that took place at Queen’s Park last month, when I spoke Anishininiimowin in the Chamber for ten minutes and asked a question during Question Period. I was honoured to share this moment with my family, including my mother on her birthday, as well as with Elders, knowledge keepers, Chiefs and Councils, and other community leaders. Our languages are integral to our ways of life as First Nations peoples, and by speaking Anishininiimowin at the Legislature, I am highlighting the importance of protecting Indigenous languages and the need to invest in language revitalization – particularly within our schools and education systems.

“I felt hope this year when I witnessed the power of First Nations coming together in solidarity to affirm our rights and self-determination. I saw Chiefs come together to call for a one-year moratorium on mining claims staking on their lands, and again to challenge Ontario’s discriminatory exclusion of First Nations bylaws in legislation, I stood beside Grassy Narrows leadership, community members, and their allies as they opposed the continued contamination and poisoning of their community, and, I witnessed First Nations in northwestern Ontario and Manitoba (including Kingfisher First Nation) transcend colonial boundaries to unite as the Anishininew Nation.

“As we mark National Indigenous Peoples Day, we must continue to acknowledge the difficult realities which link our history to our present struggles and reflect on what a practice of meaningful reconciliation looks like.”

NDP Leader Marit Stiles joins MPP Mamakwa’s call for meaningful reconciliation practices that recognize all of the needs that reconciliation must address to have a substantial impact.

“It is not enough for this government to focus on ‘First Nations Economic Reconciliation’ - which is part of their rebranding of the Ministry of Indigenous Affairs. Each of us needs to do our part - as elected officials, as community members, in whatever role we fill - to strive to be a province and country where all Indigenous communities’ rights, languages and ways of life are respected.

“On this day, I want to recognize the knowledge, culture and ongoing work to defend the rights of Indigenous people. As Leader of the Official Opposition, I have been listening and I know there is a better way forward. We need to elect an Ontario government that works in partnership with First Nations leaders and communities to build a true nation-to-nation relationship.”