May 31, 2023
June is Indigenous History Month

Since 2009, June is declared National Indigenous history month in Canada. In June we reflect on the history, heritage, resilience and diversity of First Nations, Inuit, Métis peoples. June 11th is the National Day of Reconciliation, created in 2008, to mark the federal government public apology for the creation of the Indian residential school system. June 21st is National Indigenous Peoples Day, which coincides with the summer solstice. On this day we celebrate the unique cultures and contributions made by Indigenous peoples on Turtle Island.

Allyship goes hand in hand with truth telling, education and advocacy. At UFCW Canada we know that allyship must include continued efforts to create space for UFCW Indigenous members to lead this work within our national union, and for this to happen, we must continue capacity building through awareness at and beyond the workplace.

For this reason, working alongside UFCW Canada resident Elder Eric Flett and UFCW Canada’s Indigenous Sub-Committee, the UFCW Canada land acknowledgement includes the following language:

UFCW Canada national headquarters are situated on territory of the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation, the traditional territory of the Huron-Wendat, Haudenosaunee, Anishnawbe peoples and home to many other First Nations, Métis and Inuit peoples. UFCW Canada offices and local union offices are also situated across Turtle Island.

We recognize that Indigenous peoples are the first and rightful land holders and workers of this land and the first peoples to have a relationship to the food system and environment we contribute to and benefit from today. As a national union fighting to protect worker rights, we affirm our commitment to advance Indigenous justice with guidance provided by the UFCW Canada Indigenous Sub-Committee and through union representation and advocacy at large.

With respect to training and education, we’re proud of a national organizational partnership  signed in February 2023 between the Native Women’s Association of Canada’s Indigenous Skills and Employment Training (ISET) Programand UFCW Canada’s Training & Education Department. In the fall of 2022, 30+ Indigenous women and gender diverse persons forming part of the ISET program successfully completed FREE online training through UFCW Canada WebCampus in the Administrative Assistant Certificate. In 2023, this pilot has been extended to a second cohort of participants, some who are also working on an additional People Skills Certificate with UFCW Canada support.

“Training and education are core values of UFCW Canada,” says Marv Funk, WebCampus Training & Education Director, UFCW Canada. “When it comes to dismantling barriers in access to employment, our union is committed to supporting ISET participants in achieving their employment-related educational goals.”

Furthermore, in 2023, UFCW Canada local unions have participated in UFCW Canada’s newest hybrid Indigenous rights course, facilitated by Elder Eric Flett.

“We all need to learn from our past,” says Elder Eric Flett, UFCW Canada Resident Elder. “Gaining this knowledge will help strengthen ourselves and our communities. The elders said long ago that education will be our ‘new Buffalo’.”

UFCW Canada Indigenous sub-committee members also participate in Indigenous days of observances throughout the year. This year, we are proud of the UFCW Indigenous sub-committee’s newest initiative, a UFCW Canada Indigenous commemorative flag. It is released ahead of Indigenous History Month, in honour of First Nations, Métis, and Inuit activism. The flag will be a permanent fixture at the National Office in Toronto and can already be found in numerous UFCW local union offices across the country.

The flag was envisioned and designed in collaboration with members of UFCW Canada’s Indigenous Sub-committee and builds on the UFCW Canada Indigenous pin – hundreds of which were distributed at the 13th UFCW Canada National Convention.

Details of Flag Imagery:

  • Medicine Wheel – Represents our relationship to land and people.
  • Feathers – Represents the wisdom of our ancestors and reaffirms our union’s commitment to honour and respect Indigenous rights across Turtle Island.
  • Red Handprint – Represents our commitment towards justice for Indigenous women, girls, and 2-Spirit peoples (2SMMIWG).
  • Orange Backdrop – Represents our solidarity with “Every Child Matters” campaign.

As we engage in June activities to celebrate the beauty and diversity of Indigenous culture, we are mindful that solidarity, advocacy and allyship go hand in hand with the fight for Indigenous justice.