The importance of recognizing UNDRIP and Orange Shirt Day

Collage of NWMO employees wearing orange

NWMO employees honoured Orange Shirt Day. By learning together, we contribute to the ongoing dialogue about Canadian and Indigenous Peoples shared history.

In September, the Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NWMO) continued its commitment to learn together to pursue Reconciliation. The organization joined all Canadians in recognizing two important days: the anniversary of the adoption of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) and Orange Shirt Day.

UNDRIP

The United Nations adopted UNDRIP in 2007 to affirm the pre-existing individual and collective rights of Indigenous peoples around the world. UNDRIP also enshrines rights that “constitute the minimum standards for the survival, dignity and well-being of the Indigenous peoples of the world.” Additionally, Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission said that UNDRIP charts a path “for Reconciliation to flourish in 21st century Canada.” 

“A first step was for the NWMO to recognize the importance of UNDRIP in our Reconciliation Policy (2019),” said Brittany Misurec, Legal Counsel. “We are sorting through the significant UNDRIP concepts and balancing how it impacts our project as part of corporate Canada.”

“When we ask communities to learn about our project, it is equally important that we learn about what is important for the communities; the application of UNDRIP is important to communities and we are just embarking on these conversations,” said Greg Plain, Senior Advisor, Indigenous Engagement. “This is an opportunity to reflect on how this international declaration shapes the project, how we make decisions as an organization, and what that means to municipal and Indigenous communities that we are working with.”

Orange Shirt Day

On September 30, NWMO employees took part in Orange Shirt Day to contribute to the ongoing dialogue about Canada’s Indian residential school system while honouring those Indigenous children that were forcibly taken from their families and sent to residential schools. Tragically, around 6,000 Indigenous children died while at residential schools and today there are 80,000 survivors.

“While the intergenerational impacts of residential schools is still experienced by far too many, the resilience of the survivors inspires me to keep working on my own Reconciliation journey,” said Jessica Perritt, Section Manager, Indigenous Knowledge and Reconciliation. “I feel privileged to be able to learn from survivors and also see witness to the power of healing within my own family. Acknowledging their strength and resiliency is a step towards building positive and respectful relationships.”  

Honouring the significance of these dates may be a first step in someone’s Reconciliation journey and every journey starts with a first step.