Media Release

RECONCILIATION STATEMENT

AAISA Statement of solidarity with Indigenous Peoples

July 5, 2021, Calgary, AB

All of us at AAISA are deeply saddened and outraged by the discovery of the buried remains of Indigenous children across several sites of former residential schools across Canada. The news is a painful reminder of centuries of systemic oppression and trauma inflicted upon Indigenous peoples.

This news is a stark reminder – of both Canada’s history of colonialism, and of the persistent lack of action, education, and meaningful reconciliation of the present. The cornerstone of both truth and reconciliation is confronting both our past and present without distortion and deprecation. It is our duty, as settlers of Turtle Island, to educate ourselves on on the atrocities of our past and how these legacies of injustice cascade into the systems and institutions of today.

While efforts have been made and apologies uttered, the historical and continued subjugation, injustice, and systemic racism towards Indigenous peoples are not prominent in the non-profit sector narrative. As a non-profit sector, we must recognize that we have often both benefitted and perpetuated injustice and inequity within our organizations and the communities we serve. Furthermore, as a settlement and integration sector, we must acknowledge the role that settlement has played in the historical and ongoing subjugation and displacement of Indigenous peoples. While Settlement is inextricably linked to the colonial underpinnings and modern realities of Canada, it is our utmost responsibility as a settlement and integration sector to chart a new way forward founded upon accountability, truth, and reconciliation.

AAISA, as an advocate and collaborator, has the responsibility to bring these matters forward and ensure that we are dedicated to a conscious and responsible approach to reconcile with our past, advocate for truth, and call upon every institution in Canada to work together to strive for the same. AAISA is committed to our ongoing efforts to counter discrimination and racism towards Indigenous peoples and systemic denial of their rights. In collaboration with our member agencies and umbrella counterparts, we want to build trusting relationships with Indigenous communities and develop meaningful partnerships to actively strengthen truth and reconciliation into our daily work.

To do this, AAISA staff have been reflecting on our position in advancing the 94 TRC Calls to Action, specifically Calls 93 and 94:

  1. We call upon the federal government, in collaboration with the national Aboriginal organizations, to revise the information kit for newcomers to Canada and its citizenship test to reflect a more inclusive history of the diverse Aboriginal peoples of Canada, including information about the Treaties and the history of residential schools.
  2. We call upon the Government of Canada to replace the Oath of Citizenship with the following: I swear (or affirm) that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, Queen of Canada, Her Heirs and Successors, and that I will faithfully observe the laws of Canada including Treaties with Indigenous Peoples and fulfill my duties as a Canadian citizen.

First, we call upon entire settlement sector and all non-profit organizations to commit to adapting and implementing all 94 TRC Calls to Action, and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

Second, we are committed to creating a task force that will work with Indigenous communities to integrate their perspectives into our initiatives and programming and to advocate to the Federal Government to address and implement the Calls to Action.

Third, we ask Alberta government to research into the undocumented deaths and burials of hundreds of Indigenous children and give families closure.

Fourth, we ask Federal Government to, in collaboration with Indigenous peoples, reevaluate the Indian Act.

AAISA is committed to moving beyond a Statement of Reconciliation to the development and implementation of an action plan which will be reviewed regularly.

END ISLAMOPHOBIA

AAISA Statement of support and solidarity for Muslim communities

July 5, 2021, Calgary, AB

AAISA is appalled and deeply troubled by the recent violence and acts of hate directed at the Muslim community across Canada. There has been a string of violent Islamophobic attacks, rooted in systems and beliefs of white supremacy and white privilege that exist throughout Canadian society and underlie government policy.

The attack of two sisters in St. Albert last week was a deliberate act of Islamophobia and systemic racism. This is the latest vicious attack among too many in the last year including attacks on Somali Canadian woman in Edmonton in February 2021, two Muslim women in Edmonton in December 2020, the Afzaal family killing in London, Ontario in June 2021, and a stabbing at a Toronto Mosque in September 2020.

Islamophobia cannot be seen in isolation from the concerning increase in xenophobia and hate speech against minorities in Canada, including immigrants and diverse faith communities.  Such vile acts are violations to the Universal Human Rights and Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and particularly the freedom of conscience and religion, and freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression.

The fear of immigrants of different religious traditions has a long history in Canada, since the racist rules of the Immigration Act 1869, The Chinese Immigration Act of 1885, Immigration Act of 1906, and Chinese Immigration Act of 1923. Although Canada committed to support multiculturalism with the Canadian Multiculturalism Policy of 1971 and Canadian Multiculturalism Act of 1988, 30 years later racial separatism, hatred, and violence towards minority groups has been escalating in Canada.

As AAISA strives to build a welcoming, inclusive, and engaging society, we commit to speak out and take actions against hate, systemic racism, and social inequality and condemn Islamophobia and all forms of bigotry and religious discrimination. We urge federal and provincial governments to develop a country-wide approach for reducing or eliminating systemic racism and religious discrimination in the spirit of building safer and more inclusive communities for all Canadians.