Markham, Ontario, July 1, 2021
In response to the discovery of mass graves at former residential schools over the last few weeks, I want to acknowledge that the land we live on, known today as Ontario, Canada, is the ancestral territories of the First Nations, the Anishinaabe, Chippewa, Haudenosaunee and Wendat peoples. As a result of the Williams Treaties signed in 1923, we now all share a covenant with the Indigenous peoples to care for this land and a responsibility to continue the tradition of compassionate stewardship so that future generations will continue to enjoy the unblemished beauty of this land. Remembering always that we never own the land but rather, borrow its use for our children.
We need to not only acknowledge the dark periods in the history of Canada, but also to understand the effects on the Indigenous people. We need to, collectively as Canadians, help improve the living conditions of the Indigenous communities, as we are aware of, their continuous lack of access to clean water, healthcare, and education. These are basic human rights and I urge the Canadian government to act on the recommendations from the Truth & Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action, together with the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls’ Calls to Action.
As Canadians, we need to admit that Canada had suppressed Indigenous people here. Similarly, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), has suppressed and continuously taking human rights away from people in Tibet, East Turkestan and recently Hong Kong. We are disappointed that the Senate had declined to label China’s suppression of the Uyghur population in China as genocide. The CCP also posts threats to the world through infiltration, manipulation, media propaganda, intimidation and hostage taking, as with Canadian citizens Michael Spavor and Micheal Kovrig, who have been detained in China for almost 3 years.
As we all know from our relationship with Indigenous communities, we should face racism and ignorance head on and should not avoid or shy away from voicing what needs to be done or what is not aligned with our global values.
Mimi Lee is the Markham-Thornhill MP candidate for the Green Party. As a pro-democracy and human rights activist, Mimi has organized and led a crowdfunded public awareness campaign that raised over $34,000 in 60 hours and mobilized 100 volunteers. She works with multicultural media organizations, as well as volunteering with various non-profit organizations.
For more background information:
The Truth & Reconciliation Commission report:
The Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls report:
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Markham-Thornhill MP candidate for the Green Party