July 20th, 2018

A positive step for city council

By Lethbridge Herald Opinon on May 16, 2018.

It’s symbolic – but it’s another step forward.

This week, Mayor Chris Spearman opened city council’s regular meeting with a statement recognizing that Lethbridge was built in traditional Blackfoot territory.

That formal acknowledgement has become a part of many gatherings in southern Alberta, similar to declarations in other Canadian cities recognizing the First Nations territory on which they stand.

It points to the fact that European settlers – and labourers they brought from Asia – were by no means the first people to inhabit this part of the world. And that it was the overwhelming power of the colonial army and police that forced aboriginal peoples across Canada to surrender so much of their land.

Equally important, it fosters public recognition of Canada’s sad history of dealing with the people who made their living on this land for thousands of years, as an essential part of our nation’s Truth and Reconciliation process.

So many Canadians have yet to admit the reality of the atrocities inflicted upon aboriginal people in the name of “opening the West” for farming, church and empire. Starvation, military might, disregarded treaties and the all-powerful Indian Act were among the earlier weapons, followed by the residential schools, the “Sixties Scoop” and our continuing failure to provide such a basic safeguard as clean water.

So much awareness and education are needed. Fortunately, community groups across the land are acting on recommendations from the national Truth and Reconciliation report.

Here in Lethbridge, community and civic representatives prepared an action plan which was subsequently adopted by city council. Local branches of national organizations like the Canadian Municipalities Against Racism and Discrimination have taken a lead.

Some churches, service clubs and social agencies are also playing an important role in our community. And now the Allied Arts Council has stepped up, booking Calgary-based Quest Theatre for a June 1 presentation of “We Are All Treaty People,” a learning experience for all ages.

Much more should be done in response to local and Canada-wide recommendations. It’s clear that the truth must be recognized before real reconciliation can begin. And that will take time; injustices can’t be addressed and settled suddenly.

In Lethbridge, we can hope for the same kind of planning and delivery that saw some symbolic but important events take place last year. Those steps forward should now be followed up.

City council’s formal recognition this week is certainly a positive initiative. We trust there will soon be more.

Comment on this editorial online at https://www.lethbridgeherald.com/opinions/.

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5 Responses to “A positive step for city council”

  1. Jagtech says:

    OK taxpayers. Break out your cheque books…. here we go again.

  2. Resolute says:

    Right. Will Council meetings also recognize the work of Ukrainians, Polish, Chinese, Japanese, Mormon, Mennonite, English, Scot, Irish, Romanian, French, Spanish, Columbian, etc citizens and their ancestors that settled here and gave us what we have today? Or is it only socially acceptable to honour nomadic peoples that believe land cannot be owned. For their land. What?

  3. biff says:

    what are we acknowledging – that i own my house but not the land that i also paid dearly for? acknowledge what one wishes, but every time? as redundant as the national anthem in elementary schools every morning; as the lord’s prayer before school when i was a kid… and god save the queen… and the national anthem. what a waste of time, and what a brainwash.
    time to move on, and to do so with the idea to give a fair deal to all canadians – and for all canadians to move on and practice inclusion. this includes the numerous swaths of “minority” communities that increasingly dot the landscape with their dominance – where in order to run for office one needs to be a member of that dominant minority. this includes various workplaces, where dominant visible minority business owners hire solely or primarily those of the same religion/ethnicity. folks, racism, inclusiveness, prejudice, and human rights are two way streets. either we are inclusive and all equally entitled, or we are exclusive and racist.
    meanwhile, one cannot put a price on terror, genocide, and hate/discrimination. that aside, in strictly financial terms, how much have the various gov’ts in this country given to first nations over the centuries? how close would the total be to fair value for the land “taken”?

  4. snowman says:

    the right honourable pm Stephen Harper gave a official apology to the Indians on behalf of the govt and people of Canada with all band chiefs present and accepted. They gave up their so calledfirst here right with signing of treaty. We bought and payed for our landBlackfoot have no title. If the Mayor and Council feel they must apologizedo so for themselves do not mention all citizens This is not Kipp land forcedgrab for Akker land.

  5. snowman says:

    The treaties stated aborigional land and federal land
    municipalities did not exist at the time. The bounderies
    of present municipal of Lethbridge have no jurisdiction
    over aborigional reserves we did not participate in
    residential schools, scoop ups or reconciliation the federal
    govt of the time holds full responsibility and officialy apologized
    and paid billions of tax payer dollars to correct their stupid
    political act. we as citizen/taxpayer hold no responsibility
    therefore will not apologize if the mayor and council want to
    be fools that is up to them solely they can be inclusive.

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