Many thanks are owed to the leadership and organization of the HIV & AIDS Legal Clinic Ontario (HALCO) for preparing the following statement to share with our Membership. We thought it deserved a wider readership, as the message is so important and so well articulated.
This day, and this type of organizational commitment is relevant both in the work that we do and in our role as inclusive and aware Canadians at large.
The message, sent by Executive Director, Ryan Peck, reads:
“In solidarity with Indigenous Peoples and in support of Reconciliation, the HIV & AIDS Legal Clinic Ontario (HALCO) joins 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.
“We acknowledge that since time immemorial the land on which we work has been home to Indigenous Peoples, including the Mississaugas of the Credit, Haudenosaunee, Huron-Wendat, Inuit, and Métis relatives. We are grateful to have the opportunity to work in the community, on this territory.
“Our recognition of Indigenous Peoples must also be connected to efforts to realize the Calls to Action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls.
“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.
“HALCO works for health and justice. We must therefore do our part to address the ongoing injustices and resulting health inequities that face Indigenous Peoples and that contribute to the impact of the HIV epidemic on Indigenous communities. We are committed to this effort, working in collaboration with Indigenous colleagues and organizations.”