USW Bargaining Guide for Advancing Indigenous Rights

Revised 2022

The USW Bargaining Guide for Advancing Indigenous Rights contains examples of contract language from USW and other collective agreements which aim to advance the rights of Indigenous workers and their communities.


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Taking action on Truth and Reconciliation

Reconciliation means action. Here are some practical things Steelworkers and local unions can do to build reconciliation.

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United Steelworkers statement of principles on Aboriginal issues

The USW is expanding outreach to members who are First Nations, Inuit, and Métis and expanding action on issues of importance to Aboriginal peoples in Canada. Delegates at the 2016 USW National Policy Conference adopted this Statement of Principles to guide our union’s work.

The United Steelworkers are proud to have Aboriginal members as part of our union. Aboriginal members are proud to be Steelworkers. We have a lot to offer Aboriginal members. Further engaging our Aboriginal members in the union, and drawing on the pride, knowledge, and experience of Aboriginal members and Aboriginal values and culture will enrich our union and make us stronger.

The United Steelworkers recognize Canada’s shameful history in dealing with Aboriginal peoples and the abuse suffered by First Nations, Métis, and Inuit peoples. As a union we must and will be part of processes of reconciliation and healing. At all levels of our union we renew our commitment to building relationship of mutual support and respect with Aboriginal leaders, activists, organizations and communities.

The United Steelworkers support reconciliation and socio-economic justice based on Aboriginal rights, honouring treaties, and meeting the principles and standards of the United Nations’ Declaration on  the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

“Recognize, Accept, and Support” are key concepts that will guide our union’s engagement on Aboriginal issues. There are many ways to be a proud Steelworker; welcoming and respecting Aboriginal members means engagement on their terms, consistent with their cultures and history. Putting into practice our commitments to  inclusion, reconciliation and healing will mean that our union itself has to continue to change and take concrete actions.

The Steelworkers’ commitment to represent and support our Aboriginal members and their communities is part of our commitment to a democratic, inclusive, and diverse union that builds power and creates a bright future for us all.


USW and the Truth & Reconciliation Commission

The United Steelworkers supports and endorses the report and recommendations of Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission.


National inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women, girls, and two spirit/LGBTQ+ people

Long-time government policies and deeply rooted social beliefs have put Canada’s Indigenous women, girls, and Two Spirit/LGBTQ+ people at greater risk of violence. USW helped in the call for a National inquiry, because an injury to one is an injury to all, and because Steelworkers and our family members are among the missing and murdered.


The Blanket Exercise

The Blanket Exercise builds awareness and understanding of our shared history as Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples in Canada.


Territorial acknowledgements

To recognize this troubled past and express a desire to establish new relationships with Indigenous peoples, many organizations now start meetings, conferences and other events with a territorial acknowledgement, naming the Indigenous peoples on whose land they now live and work.

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Residential Schools of Canada

A PDF map in English and French of residential schools of Canada

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Reconciliation resources

Guidelines for being a good neighbour and ally; Writing a territorial acknowledgement; How USW locals can support Indigenous rights

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