In solidarity with Indigenous Peoples and in support of Reconciliation, the HIV & AIDS Legal Clinic Ontario (HALCO) participates in the June celebration of Indigenous History Month and Indigenous Peoples Day. Our office is closed on June 21 each year to mark this day.
Indigenous people in Ontario are 1.7 times more likely to be living with HIV than non-Indigenous people. While there are a number of factors that contribute to incidence of HIV, the key determinant remains colonization and its continuing social and health impacts. Moving towards Reconciliation is an opportunity to work with Indigenous communities to, among other things, ensure that Indigenous people with HIV in Ontario have access to the best available legal services, care, treatment and support.
We acknowledge that since time immemorial the land on which we work has been home to Indigenous Peoples, including the Mississaugas of the New Credit, the Haudenosaunee, the Huron-Wendat, Inuit and Métis relatives. We are here as guests and we are grateful to our hosts today and every day.
HALCO urges a response to all the Calls to Action put forth by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, including that the federal government, in collaboration with Indigenous Peoples, establish June 21 as a statutory holiday. In the meantime, we encourage all employers to declare June 21 a (paid) holiday for their workplaces.