Local drummers celebrate Indigenous Peoples Day with the Greater Trail community at Gyro Park on June 21, 2019. Photo: Jim Bailey

Local drummers celebrate Indigenous Peoples Day with the Greater Trail community at Gyro Park on June 21, 2019. Photo: Jim Bailey

City of Rossland adopts Indigenous land acknowledgement policy

The policy is part of the 94 Calls to Action and is a living document that will evolve over time

City representatives consulted with local Indigenous peoples to develop a draft as part of the city’s policy to support the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and the findings and recommendations of Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

CAO Bryan Teasdale presented the draft of the Indigenous land acknowledgement policy to council on May 2 in accordance with the “94 Calls to Action” on how governments, institutions and residents can support the process of reconciliation.

It read: “We acknowledge and respect that we live, work, and play on the traditional, ancestral and unceded territory of the sngaytskstx (Sinixt) People and honor all other indigenous people who walked on and cared for these lands before us and continue to do so. We also support and add our voices to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada’s Call to Actions in order to redress the legacy of residential schools and advance the process of Canadian reconciliation.”

Coun. Stewart Spooner disagreed with the motion saying doing so is essentially paying lip service to a much more complex problem that requires action.

“I realize I’m fighting against the tide here, but I need to make a point,” said Spooner. “I’m opposed to these recitations of any sort at these meetings.

“We should be more informed, we should consider these issues more often … and I would actually rather do something rather than talk about them. Reciting these words at meetings, it robs the words of meaning and it just seems hollow.”

Mayor Kathy Moore said she agreed with Spooner’s sentiment, but added that the acknowledgement is an important step on what will be a longer journey to reconciliation, and one that has already begun.

Coun. Andy Morel concurred saying, “Truth is what we’re seeking, but I agree with Stewart 100 per cent, that there has to be a lot more than this.

“I am happy to be involved in council moving this forward, but I also wish the next council will continue on that process.”

The motion passed with Coun. Spooner opposed.

According to the city draft, Land Acknowledgements will be used in the following circumstances by the city (klwist):

• to acknowledge Indigenous communities at either the beginning of a gathering/event or, when appropriate, to invite an Elder(s) or representative(s) to extend a welcome.

• at the inaugural meeting of Rossland city council following a municipal election or by-election and at the start of any future formal council meeting (including public hearings, regular meetings, special meetings, etc.

• at City of Rossland special events, including but not limited to, annual events and/or festivals, openings and/or announcements of new infrastructure, facilities and/or assets, ground-breaking and/or construction ceremonies, or any other event in consultation with, or directed by, the Mayor and/or the Chief Administrative Officer (or their designate);

• upon commencement of any relevant workplace in-person or online meeting(s), gathering(s), conference(s) and group training session(s), and

• by external groups and/or agencies within the City of Rossland that regularly and/or routinely utilize city assets or amenities, whether in whole and/or in part.

“As a living document, this policy will continue to evolve over time as the city (klwist) engages in ongoing learning and educational activities about reconciliation,” the report added.

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