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June 21, 2013

The following is being distributed at the request of the Human Rights Commission:

Human Rights Commission Recognizes National Aboriginal Day

The Newfoundland and Labrador Human Rights Commission recognizes National Aboriginal Day being celebrated on June 21. First established in 1996, National Aboriginal Day recognizes the unique heritage, diverse cultures and outstanding contributions of Canada’s First Nations, Inuit and Metis peoples.

The commission supports the work of provincial Aboriginal groups and appreciates the importance of the celebrations and other activities that are taking place across Newfoundland and Labrador today. All Newfoundlanders and Labradorians are encouraged to participate in these worthwhile events.

The Newfoundland and Labrador Human Rights Act protects Aboriginal persons from discrimination based on race, ancestry, sex and the other characteristics outlined in the act. This protection applies to employment, housing, public services, certain associations and publications, provided the issue falls under provincial jurisdiction. Many complaints made by Aboriginal persons fall under federal jurisdiction and should be filed through the Canadian Human Rights Commission in Ottawa. Staff at the commission in Newfoundland and Labrador can answer questions on jurisdiction.

The commission, as a member of the Canadian Association of Statutory Human Rights Agencies (CASHRA), is a signatory to a unanimous motion which was sent to the Government of Canada in April 2013 and which called for the Federal Government to work with Aboriginal peoples’ organizations to develop and implement a national action plan. The plan would focus urgent attention on addressing and preventing the root causes of violence against Aboriginal women and girls, including poverty and systemic discrimination. It further calls on the Government to establish an independent and inclusive inquiry into missing and murdered Aboriginal women and girls in Canada.

According to Statistics Canada, Aboriginal women in Canada are seven times more likely to be murdered than non-Aboriginal women. The Native Women’s Association of Canada reports that, over the past 30 years, an alarming number of Aboriginal women and girls have gone missing or have been found murdered in communities across Canada. Most of these cases remain unsolved. For further information, please visit www.cashra.ca

Setting aside a day for Aboriginal Peoples is part of the wider recognition of Aboriginal Peoples’ important place within the fabric of Canada and their ongoing contributions as First Peoples. As former Governor General Adrienne Clarkson said, “It is an opportunity for all of us to celebrate our respect and admiration for First Nations, for Inuit, for Metis – for the past, the present and the future.”

National Aboriginal Day is part of the annual nation-wide Celebrate Canada which also includes St-Jean Baptiste Day (June 24), Canadian Multiculturalism Day (June 27) and concludes with Canada Day (July 1).

For more information on the Human Rights Commission, please visit www.thinkhumanrights.ca.    

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Media contact:
Carey Majid, LLB
Executive Director

2013 06 21             9:40 a.m.

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