Terrace council has committed to learning more about Indigenous history and issues in an effort to further its reconciliation goals.
On Dec. 13, council voted in favour of implementing learning activities that align with Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) Call to Action 57.
TRC Call to Action 57 encourages all levels of government to provide education to public servants on the history of Aboriginal peoples, including the history and legacy of residential schools, the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, treaties and Aboriginal rights, Indigenous law, and Aboriginal–Crown relations.
Around $15,000 from surplus funds will be allocated to fund training activities in 2022.
“Our former councillor McCallum-Miller had wanted council to undertake cultural awareness training. We started down this path in early 2020 and things got sidelined with Covid,” said Mayor Carol Leclerc in an email statement.
“Eventually, council was able to do some cultural awareness training through Kitamaat Valley Education Society and with the Regional District, listening to speakers from Nisga’a and Gitxsan territories.”
McCallum-Miller was the youngest and first Indigenous councillor for Terrace, and was the first to propose Indigenous cultural awareness training in 2020. However, she resigned in February 2021 when the training still had not happened.
She issued a written statement saying her resignation followed a second unsuccessful attempt to get the Terrace council to participate in a cultural awareness training program.
The former councillor also said in her statement that she questioned if truth and reconciliation was being honoured or a priority for the community before listing “systemic and internalized racism” and “sexism” as reasons leading to her departure from council.
This year, in April, council directed staff to develop an implementation strategy for responding to the Truth & Reconciliation Commission of Canada’s Call to Action 57, Leclerc said.
“The journey of truth and reconciliation is not a checklist for council or a one-and-done, but rather a path that council will be on for years to come.”
The proposed plan takes a blended learning approach ranging from online learning to in-person training to self-led reading and review. It consists of several training and communications activities which have been categorized into time frames ranging from six months to two year. Some of its short term goals include training activities like online history lessons and anti-racism programs.
Long term plans include experiential learning opportunities for which staff have recommended to get input and advice from local First Nations.
Based on staff suggestion, in future, the city could also be looking at implementing more TRC calls to action such as Call to Action 7 which suggests reducing employment and education gaps between Aboriginals and non-aboriginals and Call to Action 87, which is to increase public awareness of stories of Aboriginal athletes in history.