Tuesday, September 14, 2021

Starting the Journey of Reconciliation in Langley City

When I went to elementary school and high school, we were not taught about the horrors and cultural genocide committed against Indigenous Nations and people by governments via the residential school system. My first exposure to the dark history of the residential school system was when I worked at the TV station where they filmed the first season of APTN’s First Talk.

Earlier this summer, with the discovery of 215 remains at the Kamloops Indian Residential School site by Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc First Nation, the atrocities of the residential school system came to light for many Canadians, including myself.

With Canada Day coming up at the time, I reached out to Katie Pearson, CEO of the Lower Fraser Valley Aboriginal Society. She said that Langley City needs to start implementing the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada’s Calls to Action. She left me with some presentations to watch and contact information for other Indigenous leaders.

Over several discussions with Indigenous and Métis people, I heard that the heart must first be open to starting the journey of reconciliation. For Langley City as a colonial institution, this begins with education.

Langley City Council unanimously passed the following motion last night.

WHEREAS the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s summary report, “Honouring the Truth, Reconciling the Future,” was released to the public on June 2nd, 2015;

WHEREAS as directed by the commission report; calls for federal, provincial, territorial and municipal governments to fully adopt and implement the United Nations Declaration on Rights of Indigenous People as the framework for reconciliation;

WHEREAS the City of Langley is a colonial institution;

WHEREAS the work of reconciliation must start within colonial institutions;

WHEREAS the City of Langley owns the act of reconciliation;

WHEREAS local governments must begin the journey with Indigenous Nations by learning the truth of Canada’s cultural genocide of Indigenous People before reconciliation can be achieved;

WHEREAS City of Langley Council has the opportunity to move the City in a good way by gaining perspectives and understanding of Indigenous Elders and Traditional Knowledge Keepers of ethics, concepts, and practices of reconciliation;

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED THAT the City of Langley create a Request for Proposal for developing an educational program about Truth and Reconciliation, Indigenous Cultural Protocols, Knowledge Systems, and Empathy and Safety work by qualified Indigenous Cultural presenters, practitioners or educators;

THAT the City of Langley submit a successful Request for Proposal for Council to tender;

THAT Council consider funding the tender as part of the 2022 budget process;

THAT the educational program be delivered to Council and Senior Staff as soon as possible;

THAT the educational program be delivered to Council and Senior Staff within six months of any Council inauguration;

THAT the City of Langley take immediate action by acknowledging Orange Shirt Day by placing an Every Child Matters Banner across the two Fraser Highway gateways to the Downtown for the week of September 27th, 2021;

THAT up to $2,500 be expended from the Enterprise Fund for the Every Child Matters Banner; and,

THAT the Every Child Matters Banner be stored by the City for future use as directed by Council.

This motion is just the first step on the reconciliation journey. With our hearts open, we can start on the path of implementing the Calls to Action.

As of this writing, Indigenous Nations throughout Canada have discovered over 1,500 unmarked graves at former residential school sites.


Unknown said...

My child goes to Douglas Park Elementary School which sits on the unceded traditional territories of the Matsqui, Kwantlen, Katzie, and Semiahmoo First Nations. I think it would be great for the city to hire a carver to erect a totem pole in Douglas Park. Just my idea but I would love to see it.

Nathan Pachal said...

Thank you for sharing.

Anonymous said...

Unceded land should never be sold. If the ownership is in dispute, how can it be sold?? Will people's from other countries be able to sue the Government of B.C. for standing by , and condoning that action, as fraud? (Seriously wondering......)