Statement from President Hesse and Secretary Treasurer Stewart on National Day for Truth and Reconciliation

Today is Canada’s first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. It will be a difficult day where we face into and contemplate our country’s troubling past with regard to residential schools and the harm we have inflicted on Indigenous peoples and communities.

Frankly, it should be a difficult day. If we are truly reckoning with what has transpired, we should be challenged – mentally and emotionally, collectively and individually. These are realities that challenge us to reconsider many of our commonly held beliefs around what it means to be Canadian, in the past, the present, and moving into the future.

Today is a day for all of us to reflect on what we can do to assist in a sincere and genuine process of facing the truth of the harm inflicted on Indigenous peoples. Whether directly or indirectly, we are all implicated in that harm, and we all need to take responsibility for having allowed it to occur.

Today is also a day for us to meditate on how we can contribute to a real process of reconciliation with Indigenous peoples and communities across Canada. Reconciliation is more than just an idea. It needs to be action that we take today, and every day, as we go about our lives. It involves coming to terms with how monumental enabling genuine reconciliation is. It involves listening – perhaps truly for the first time — to those with whom we would seek reconciliation about what such an act means and needs to entail for them. And then, it involves taking our commitment and putting it into tangible action with meaningful outcomes.

We all have a part to play in contributing to that reconciliation, and we need to be honest with ourselves about the fact that contributing will not be easy. It will not always feel good. It will demand from us a degree of honesty that we have not displayed as Canadians to date.

But that is what we are called to do. And for many of us, that work starts, in earnest, today.

As a labour union and a progressive organization that works every day to build better workplaces and a better world, we are committed to doing our part.

Unlike Loblaws, who have refused to formally acknowledge the importance of this day in any meaningful way, we have asked our staff to use this day as an opportunity for vital reflection.

We know that words without action to back them up are empty and, ultimately, only contribute to the harm we are seeking to address, rather than contributing to meaningful reconciliation.

We also encourage all our members to reflect as we are on what we can all do – both individually and collectively – to contribute to reconciliation with Indigenous peoples and communities as a crucial part of the work to which we have committed ourselves.