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GUELPH — MPP Mike Schreiner released the following statement to mark National Indigenous Peoples Day.

On National Indigenous Peoples Day, it’s important that we take time to celebrate the rich contributions and customs of Métis, Inuit, and First Nations peoples across Turtle Island.

Indigenous communities have fought hard to preserve their traditional practices, art forms, languages, and teachings – despite generations of sustained, systemic colonial violence and cultural genocide.

Today, I am especially grateful to the many Indigenous waterkeepers whose traditional knowledge has taught me so much about the importance of protecting what sustains us.

Indigenous teachings on sustainability and community are critical to help us be better stewards of the land and water that gives us life.

Celebrations are important. But it’s equally important that we take this time to move from words to action. We need a full commitment to combat the systemic racism and colonialism still embedded in our society as we work toward reconciliation.

That is why on this National Indigenous Peoples Day, I am calling on the provincial government to support Indigenous culture, traditions, and ways of knowing by:

  • Reinstating support for the Indigenous Culture Fund;
  • Working with Indigenous educators and community leaders to develop a mandatory provincial curriculum on Indigenous histories, experiences and ways of knowing;
  • Providing dedicated funding to support the recruitment and retention of Indigenous teachers and instructors in schools, particularly Indigenous language teachers; and
  • Providing $1B in funding for Indigenous-protected and conserved areas, in which Indigenous governments play the primary role in protecting and conserving ecosystems through Indigenous laws and traditional knowledge systems.

Finally, I ask that the government take immediate action to fully implement the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and work with the federal government to implement the Calls to Action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission – to ensure that the wounds of the past can finally begin to heal.

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