CUPE New Brunswick expresses profound disappointment in the Government of New Brunswick’s recently released memo that prohibits government employees from making land acknowledgements.
“Our union is committed to decolonization and reconciliation, and recognizing the stolen land on which we live is the bare minimum that we can do,” said Dana Wesley, Senior Officer for Indigenous Rights.
CUPE NB supports our members’ efforts to further the goals of reconciliation by making land acknowledgements. The union urges its members to use unequivocally the words “unceded”, “unsurrendered”, and “stolen” to describe the lands upon which we live.
“Any attempt to discipline our members for making land acknowledgements will be met with grievances,” said Steve Drost, President of CUPE NB. “This is an unconscionable directive that flies in the face of reconciliation, and we view it as a violation of the right to free speech.”
CUPE NB members understand that colonization is not a thing of the past, but that it continues into the present. The Government of New Brunswick’s memo is an example of this colonial power. In seeking to prohibit employees from using factually accurate words like “unceded” and “unsurrendered”, the memo implies that this land was ceded or surrendered. This is a colonial attempt to undermine Indigenous sovereignty. Moreover, it infringes on our members’ right to free expression, and it attempts to pit public sector workers against Indigenous communities.
“That New Brunswick exists on the stolen, unceded and unsurrendered lands of the Mi’kmaq, Wolastoqey and Peskotomuhkati is not up for debate – it is a fact,” Drost said.
On behalf of the 28,000 CUPE members of New Brunswick, many of whom are Indigenous, we affirm our solidarity with Indigenous communities in New Brunswick in their struggle for justice.