On 21 September 2017, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau delivered an address to the 72nd Session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA). In his address, he pledged to deliver on reconciliation between Canada and First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples, which he made the focus of his speech.
The Prime Minister said that Canadians were “fed up with the excuses” when it came to Indigenous issues. He stated that his administration has “been working hard, in partnership with other orders of government, and with lndigenous leaders in Canada, to correct past injustices and bring about a better quality of life for Indigenous Peoples in Canada.”
He also emphasized the importance of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in creating a better Canada for everyone, one that includes First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples. At this point in his address, he took the time to go over Canada’s plans on climate change and to highlight the importance of creating progressive trade agreements that are fair and beneficial for all. Efforts towards gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls was also topic he touched on, especially in regards to growing a stronger economy and community.
The Prime Minister’s address at the UNGA 2017 coincides with UNACTO’s honouring of the International Day of Peace in September and the 21st National Aboriginal Day in June. For National Aboriginal Day, UNACTO screened the acclaimed 2012 Canadian documentary, We Were Children, about the experiences of First Nations children in the Canadian residential school system. Brenda Wastasecoot, an instructor from the Centre of Indigenous Studies at the University of Toronto, led a discussion about Aboriginal human rights after the film.
UNACTO President Jasmine Jackman, also encouraged at these events the crucial role of volunteering and making positive changes in our respective communities through collaborative efforts and creating effective partnerships with relevant stakeholders in areas such as international peace, justice, security and development. The continual engagement of volunteers in these issues will ensure the objectives advocated for at UNGA are fulfilled, and is the integral factor in UNACTO accomplishing its mission.