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City considering Truth and Reconciliation policy

By Hannah Scott

Published 2:03 PST, Fri December 2, 2022

Richmond councillors were unanimously in support of a possible Truth and Reconciliation policy for the city at a recent general purposes committee meeting.

The motion, brought forward by Coun. Michael Wolfe, details various suggestions for ways the city could move forward. The possibilities include regular meetings with the Musqueam council; mandatory training for city staff and council members on issues of Indigenous-specific racism and decolonization; a plan to implement some of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s calls to action; and the creation of a municipal committee, task force, or staff position to address Indigenous issues.

“I’ve been embedded for 40 years in colonist practices,” said Wolfe at the committee meeting. “My experiences with Indigenous protocols and learning of them have been far and few.”

Wolfe’s motion was amended to include a June 2021 referral that directed staff to analyze possibilities for recognition of and reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples.

“While Musqueam are an important part of discussion and consideration, they’re not the only ones—we do have a huge land claim that is currently being litigated by the Cowichan for southeast Richmond, there’s certainly the Tsawwassen First Nations, and there’s potentially others. Musqueam is definitely highlighted but they’re not the only ones,” said Mayor Malcolm Brodie at the committee meeting.

Spul’u’kwuks elementary teachers Alisa Magnan and Katherine Myers spoke at the committee meeting, highlighting a petition supporting the potential policy that has over 600 signatures. They also mentioned a recent act of vandalism on their school grounds, where orange ribbons wrapped around trees were cut off and thrown away. Magnan and Myers explained that Richmond School District offers professional development programs on decolonization for teachers, and they suggested something similar for city council and staff.

Richmond resident Mark Lee also spoke at the meeting, saying he feels other municipalities are further ahead in meeting the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s calls to action. He was in favour of more specific timelines and actions for Richmond.

“We know that staff are analyzing what we’re supposed to be doing, but we have no indication of what the priorities and goals are, so we can’t have an idea of the strategies that they intend to employ,” said Lee.

The city’s chief administrative officer Serena Lusk said staff continues to work with Musqueam to make progress on the June 2021 referral so a report can be made back to council.

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