The Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs (UBCIC) has told Terrace city council it is “highly alarmed and disappointed” following the recent resignation of Jessica McCallum-Miller from city council.
“We are heartbroken to hear that rather than being empowered and supported by her colleagues, Jessica instead suffered great mental, spiritual, and emotional turmoil and stress, forced to grapple with the intolerance, exclusion, and narrow-mindedness that continues to be the lived reality of Indigenous peoples in this country,” an open letter to council states.
McCallum-Miller, the youngest and also first Indigenous councillor in Terrace’s history, resigned on Feb. 22. She said in a Facebook post that she questioned whether truth and reconciliation was a priority for council, and levied allegations of systemic racism and sexism.
The letter urges council to examine its practices, undergo cultural competency training and bring forward issues around cultural training and inclusion at the Union of BC Municipalities annual convention.
“We call upon you to support a thorough investigation, not by an ombudsperson who may perpetuate the colonial attitudes prevalent in the council, but by an Indigenous person who is well informed on Indigenous title and rights and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action.”
At a Feb. 25 committee of the whole meeting, councillors unanimously agreed to direct staff to review its current policies and pursue an independent review by the ombudsperson’s office, which investigates complaints about public agencies in B.C.
A spokesperson for the B.C. Ombudsperson’s Office said in an email on March 3 that they were aware of the issue through media reports and have been assessing it in relation to the ombudsperson’s role.