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Reflecting on Canadian Indigenous History Month

Tân’si. OKI. Boozhoo. Aaaniin. Shé:kon. Pjil’asi. Kwe kwe. Wha Chii Ya. Gilakas’la. Kii-te-daas a. Wa.é ák.wé. Greetings, all.

June is Indigenous History Month in Canada. The first day of summer also coincides with National Indigenous Peoples Day.

This year, these observances are also marked with painful reminders of our collective past: the discovery of the remains of 215 children at a former residential school on Tk’emlups te Secwépemc First Nation (Kamloops) and of 751 people at a former school on Cowessess First Nation in Saskatchewan.

We mourn the loss of these souls. We honour their memory, and we support the quest to determine their identities.  We stand with all Indigenous peoples at this extremely difficult and emotional time.

To anyone reading this who may be a residential school survivor, and/or who requires emotional support and assistance in dealing with the trauma of these discoveries, please contact 1(800) 721-0066 or the 24-hour crisis line at 1(800) 925-4419.

Against this backdrop, the long journey toward reconciliation has made some progress.  Just this month Bill C-15, An Act respecting the United Nations Declaration on Indigenous Peoples, and Bill C-8, Act to amend the Citizenship Act (Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada’s call to action number 94), became law. Indigenous peoples got new tools to reclaim their traditional names on official documents, and an office dedicated to the protection and promotion of Indigenous languages received its first appointees.
Still, more progress is needed and more must be done.

While railroaders have long valued our unique relationships with Indigenous peoples across the country, we, too, continue to learn. This month’s newsletter is compiled in that spirit – and two profiles below demonstrate how Canada’s railways put our commitments into action.

We also continue to monitor and influence party positons as each federal party crafts its policy platforms for a potential fall election campaign. We plan to judge politicians on their words and actions – just as we judge ourselves in the rail industry. So, I invite you to read below to see our commitments in action. To reflect on how you can contribute to writing our next chapter as a country.

Wishing you and yours a safe and enjoyable summer to come.