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SENATORS’ STATEMENTS — National Indigenous History Month

June 4, 2019

Honourable senators, I rise today to mark the beginning of National Indigenous History Month, a time to reflect on the heritage, culture and contributions of First Nations, Inuit and Metis peoples.

For decades, Indigenous people have been subjected to systemic oppression and discrimination sanctioned by the state and other authorities. These actions have caused an immeasurable amount of trauma, suffering and loss. It is a legacy that is still being felt today.

Despite progress in recent years, Indigenous peoples across Canada continue to face serious threats. We are the fastest-growing population but experience lower outcomes on many key economic and social indicators.

We are also struggling with realities that challenge our continued existence, namely, the erosion of our cultures, languages and ways of life; the forced removal of our children from families and communities; the massive over-representation of our people in the criminal justice system; and the disappearance and murder of our women and girls.

It is far too easy to become discouraged by the enormity of the challenges in front of us. However, many of us remain optimistic. There is an extraordinary strength and resilience within Indigenous peoples. Each day, across the country, we stand up for our rights and the rights of others. We work tirelessly to build a better future for generations to come. We will not stop. We are undeterred.

Colleagues, this month I encourage you to take time to not only reflect on our shared and, at times, dark history as a nation, but to meet, learn and develop a friendship with Indigenous peoples.

I also call on each of you to take concrete steps — inside and outside of this chamber — to build a more just, equal and inclusive Canada for Indigenous peoples and for all. Wela’lin. Thank you.

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