June 21, 2013 Check Against Delivery
|Left to Right: Art Miki, Board Secretary, Canadian Race Relations Foundation
Steven Fletcher, M.P., Minister of State for Transport, Government of Canada
Calvin Pompana, Sun Dance Chief of the Dakota, Founding Member of the White Buffalo Society and Organizer of the World Peace and Prayer Day in Winnipeg, June 21, 2013
Thank you for the opportunity to speak, on National Aboriginal Day and World Peace and Prayer Day. While Canadian Race Relations Foundation (CRRF) work and activities are limited to issues in Canada, World Peace and Prayer Day has many laudable goals consistent with our mandate.
It reminds us of the importance of the value of peace for all human beings. That it will take place during the Summer solstice of the Northern Hemisphere emphasizes its universality. It calls on those of faith to pray for what is for the good of all and it encourages all, whether believers or not, to hope for what we all aspire to. In Canada, we have the opportunity to bring people of many faiths and origins together to make this a land of peace where all participate in, contribute to, and benefit from its cultural and economic wealth.
That it takes place on National Aboriginal Day in Canada and in an important historical site for all Plains Aboriginal peoples, helps us to promote awareness of the important role Aboriginal peoples have played in this country and to recall that mutual agreements with Aboriginal peoples are a fundamental element of our constitution. Ultimately, achieving peace in Canada requires us together to respect this basic value and find the best ways to put it into action.
In terms of World Peace, our mandate is limited to helping create the conditions for peace in our own society while we continue to hope that our small efforts will help all, everywhere achieve the same goal. Those of us with a faith, can pray. Those without a faith, can hope. But we must all work together to achieve a goal that we all aspire to.
Today gives us a chance to put into effect our goals and ideals to honour and remember the past, to deal with injustices of the present and to build bridges among all peoples in Canada so that we can move forward together.
The CRRF takes its origin in a great act of reconciliation, almost 25 years ago, when the Federal Government and the NAJC, representing the Japanese Canadian Community signed agreement wherein the Government recognized the injustices of the past when the Government of Canada forcible removed the Japanese Canadian community from the B.C. coast and interned whole segments of the community in concentration camps during World War II and immediately after. It was a time when even those born in Canada were treated as enemy aliens simply because of their origins and their civil and political rights removed.
When the Agreement was signed on September 22, 1988, it brought about that period of injustice to an end through formal apology and forms of symbolic redress for the Japanese Canadian Community. But both the Japanese Canadian Community and the federal government recognized that the ultimate goal of building a society fully based on equality and justice required an ongoing effort. They envisioned a national organization that would maintain vigilance on racism and race relations, to promote further acts of reconciliation and redress and to continue into future to help bring Canadians together. It would work to help Canadians to become aware of and to deal with such issues and to develop mechanisms of bridgebuilding and dialogue so that we continue together to strive towards reaching and practicing our ideals of peace, freedom and democracy in this country.
Indeed, the Agreement itself provided a precedent and principles for further Agreements with the Chinese Canadian Community for the imposition of the Chinese Head Tax and the passage of the Chinese Exclusion Act on June 22, 2006 as well as the Agreement with former students at Indian Residential Schools on September 19, 2007.
The CRRF was created in 1996, and through the joint contribution of the Japanese Canadian Community and the Federal of government of 24 million dollars an endowment fund was established. It was intended that interest earnings from this endowment would support the ongoing operations of the organization.
Today, we continue to manage our resources carefully and to run programs aimed at building a stronger Canada. We continue to promote the gathering of intelligence on the state of race relations in this country, for instance on the state of relations between Aboriginal peoples and other segments of the population. We have supported research and exchanges, roundtables and studies, many of which can be found in our Resource Centre.
We support and offer training on dealing with these issues and where there is a need help bring groups of citizens to find ways of linking to each other, to discover their common interests on issues which call up diverse and sometimes opposing responses. In this way, we co-sponsored with the Global Education Centre of the University of Winnipeg, the holding of a first dialogue on the issue of relations between Newcomers and Aboriginal Peoples.
We are leading an Interfaith and Belonging Project, funded by Citizenship and Immigration Canada with the aim of bringing Canadians of diverse of faiths together with others to look at ways we can all make space for each other so that all will be encouraged to participate and to build our country together. Next week, on Canadian Multiculturalism Day, June 27, 2013, we will be announcing the winners of our National Video Competition for Youth and providing ways to view the two winners we believe have the potential to be excellent Public Service Announcements that could be distributed widely. Information on this project and its initiatives can be found on our web site at www.crrf-fcrr.ca.
We seek to show how those of faith and those who see themselves as secular can work together on their shared hopes for a better future.
We work with youth in other ways and give them volunteer opportunities to contribute to these valuable efforts while developing their own skills and knowledge base.
And finally, we offer a leading Resource for those who seek assistance and information for dealing with the issues of overcoming both external and internal barriers to full participation and furthering the development of a society of peace resting on the pillars of justice, freedom, democracy and equality.
With all of you, we are here today because we believe in the worthy goals of this gathering and we thank you for this opportunity to contribute to your efforts.