Mayor and members of Edmonton City Council:
On the four year anniversary of the TRC’s release of the executive summary of their final report and the 94 Calls to Action, I am writing to remind you of your past, present, and future commitments to truth and reconciliation in our city. I am also writing to acknowledge that some of this work sits on the shoulders of the agencies, boards, and commissions that you provide funding to.
Earlier this year, I received a small travel grant from the Edmonton Heritage Council to attend and present at a symposium in Winnipeg hosted by the Indigenous Heritage Circle, a national organization I have been connected with for several years now. My presence at the two-day gathering allowed me to not only share Edmonton-based work I completed in conjunction with local archives but also act as the only representative from our province at the event. While I am grateful for this support, a few hundred dollars does not scratch the surface of changing how Indigenous Peoples are represented in our memory institutions or our current civic fabric. Over the past four years, I have yet to see the tangible impact of the TRC in transforming the way that EHC or the City of Edmonton supports, collaborates with, and listens to the Indigenous Peoples of our city.
The TRC’s Calls to Action created a framework for Canadians to begin the work of reconciliation. On anniversaries like this, I take the time to reflect back and consider the progress that has been made as well as the missed opportunities for improvement. Today, I ask you to do the same. Perhaps, this is a good time to revisit and re-read the Calls to Action for yourself and consider their practical application in your daily work.
- Are you considering the impact of your decisions on the Indigenous Peoples of our city with each vote in Council Chambers?
- Are you reaching out to your Indigenous constituents and neighbours to encourage their involvement in civic life?
- Are you continuing to educate yourself on the impacts of historical trauma, colonization, and your obligations in the treaty relationship?
As elected officials in our city, you can set an example for other community leaders to follow. Your daily, proactive commitments to reconciliation show others that this work is an ongoing process and can create change if we all step up to the challenge. There is a community of survivors in our city and across the region that are also watching and listening, expecting you to approach your work differently because of the TRC. The sacred fire that burned four years ago on the steps of City Hall collected the tissues and tears of centuries of loss as well as hope for healing. I hope that your commitments to better relations with Indigenous Peoples is seen more often and that you expect the same from those that you provide public funding to.
The preceding letter was sent to all members of Edmonton City Council, along with the Edmonton Heritage Council Executive Director and grants staff on June 2, 2019 to meet the final reporting requirements of a grant.