Regional Chair Bradley’s statement on the observance of the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation
As council is aware, September 30 has been declared the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. Next Thursday will be an opportunity for all Canadians to acknowledge the devastating effects of the residential school system on Indigenous peoples, and to reflect on ways we can better advance our reconciliation efforts to build a better future for everyone.
It is my understanding that Niagara’s Indigenous communities will be observing this day as a time of reflection and mourning. I believe September 30th is a chance for us all to stand in solidarity with Indigenous peoples across the country.
As you know, Council will be voting this evening to officially recognize September 30th as the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. The motion before us will ensure that the Region takes steps to share and learn from the stories of residential school survivors, their families, and communities.
As per Council’s direction, the Region will be marking September 30 by offering staff a series of educational and training sessions on the history of Indigenous Peoples living in Niagara, including the legacies of the residential school system.
In this same spirit of education and reflection, the Region has introduced new mandatory training for all staff. This training is an introduction to the history of Indigenous People in Niagara through a series of three short videos developed by the Fort Erie Native Friendship Centre.
The Region will also be recognizing the day by:
- Amplifying the calls to action found in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission report and sharing content on our social media channels
- Encouraging everyone to consider supporting local Indigenous organizations, including the Fort Erie Native Friendship Centre, the Niagara Regional Native Centre, Niagara Chapter of Native Women, and the Woodland Cultural Centre
- And finally, we are encouraging everyone to wear an orange shirt to show their support for our Indigenous Communities on this National Day for Truth and Reconciliation
This evening, Council will also be approving an updated land acknowledgement. This new acknowledgement was developed in consultation with our local Indigenous communities and is an important recognition that Niagara Region is steeped in the rich history of First Nations and is situated on treaty lands. I look forward to sharing this new acknowledgement with you later tonight.
I would also like to provide an update on a few other ways the Region will be partnering with the Niagara Indigenous Community Executives to advance reconciliation efforts. These actions are the start of a response to commitments relating to Niagara’s Community Safety and Well-Being Plan and the recommendations in the Creating Our Way Forward Report
- On October 14, the Region’s Corporate Leadership Team will meet with senior-level urban Indigenous leaders to open a dialogue and examine opportunities to address racism and discrimination across Niagara
- In the coming months, all municipal elected officials in the region will be invited to attend a workshop on the history of Indigenous peoples living in Niagara and present-day legacies of colonialism
- Finally, early next year an invitation with be extended to local Indigenous leadership to attend a special Regional Council meeting to discuss options for action of the recommendations found in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s report
As we look to September 30, I would encourage everyone to respect this day as an opportunity to both reflect and educate ourselves on the realities of the past, and on the possibilities for the future as we work together in the spirit of reconciliation.
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