June 1st, 2021
NDP Statement on National Indigenous History Month
Jagmeet Singh Leader of Canada’s NDP issued the following statement:
“Today starts National Indigenous History Month — a time to celebrate the diverse heritages, languages, cultural practices, and spiritual beliefs of Indigenous Peoples of this land and acknowledge their historic contributions to the development of Canada.
But it is hard to talk about celebrations when recently 215 bodies of children were found in a mass grave at a former residential school in British Columbia.
Again, this reveals how many voices and stories have been silenced over the course of Canada’s history. Imagine those parents and families who lost their children and never knew when, how and why they could no longer hold them in their arms — with nowhere to go, no one to ask for help for the release of their kids.
So, when Canadians celebrate these voices during this month, it also means hearing things that are painful, that bring many Canadians shame and acknowledging the impacts of the silencing of these voices through our country’s history.
To meaningfully recognize and celebrate the presence, voices, and history of Indigenous peoples, we must act like we really want to make progress toward reconciliation. Until this day, in 2021, museum displays across Canada are still riddled with stereotypical display information, displays of Indigenous life emphasizing and privileging settler history over Indigenous history. We cannot achieve meaningful reconciliation when we don’t afford Indigenous Peoples the recognition and respect that they deserve.
We must also work toward the repatriation of cultural artifacts and remains from museums to Indigenous families as stipulated in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP). Imagine what it means when a person has significant objects from their ancestors sitting in a box somewhere far away — with no pressure to get it back.
The Liberal government has failed to adequately fund this repatriation, and this is wrong. New Democrats will continue to pressure the government to have cultural artifacts and remains returned to their rightful owners.
New Democrats are also committed to work in partnership with Indigenous communities to fully implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s 94 Calls to Action and MMIWG inquiry’s Calls to Justice.
Because we must.”