HUMBOLDT — Humboldt council unanimously passed a motion supporting a regional reconciliation program following the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action.
This includes specific focuses on public awareness, providing educational opportunities for municipal staff, developing land acknowledgement protocols and working with community partners to demonstrate a commitment to reconciliation.
Jennifer Fitzpatrick, Humboldt’s director of cultural services, prepared the report to council.
“I think it’s a first step. Reconciliation is an important aspect of the city’s core values in building a welcoming and inclusive community,” Fitzpatrick said.
“Reconciliation is certainly not a one-time project we will be working on, but a process and a way of life.”
According to Fitzpatrick, staff from all departments in the city have expressed a desire and willingness to increase their understanding of reconciliation and the history of Indigenous people in Canada.
“We’re currently reviewing options into how we provide Indigenous awareness training to staff,” she said, adding that there isn’t a timeline.
“We’re just looking into what some options are around that.”
Educational opportunities for municipal staff is a response to Call to Action #57, which specifies public servants in all levels of government should receive education 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.
This will require skills-based training in intercultural competency, conflict resolution, human rights, and anti-racism.
Fitzpatrick said two possible ways the municipality may work on public awareness are through partnership in events are National Indigenous Peoples Day and Orange Shirt Day.
“What we’re working towards right now is bringing more people into the conversation and hearing what the community would like to do moving forward,” she said. “Those are two examples of opportunities that we can participate in.”
Recently, the city collaborated in partnership with the Chamber of Commerce, and Carlton Trail College to organize a lunch and learn with the Office of the Treaty Commissioner (OTC) staff.
“We wanted to consult with the OTC, they’ve done a lot of work in this area in other areas of the province so we just wanted to have that initial conversation and some guidance from them on how we can move forward together.”
The cultural services department of the city has a $5,000 grant through SaskCulture’s Community Cultural Engagement and Planning Grant to present activities in public awareness and education.
In 2020, council approved the development of a reconciliation program, but was delayed due to the pandemic.
In 2021, preliminary community conversations resumed, with the Humboldt and District Chamber of Commerce becoming a partner to provide programming focusing on Economic Reconciliation through the Training and Education Network.
According to the report, these conversations resulted in the city’s current focus on public awareness, municipal staff training and a municipal framework.