June 16th, 2024

City closure to mark Truth and Reconciliation as day of reflection


By Al Beeber on August 31, 2021.

LETHBRIDGE HERALDabeeber@lethbridgeherald.com

The City of Lethbridge will mark the National Day of Truth and Reconciliation on Sept. 30 by closing city facilities that day.
Mayor Chris Spearman made the announcement at City Hall Monday where he talked to media along with Indigenous Relations Advisor Perry Stein and Amanda Scout, a member of the Reconciliation Lethbridge advisory committee.
“The City of Lethbridge will be marking the National Day of Truth and Reconciliation. We certainly put a lot of work into truth and reconcilation in the last four years,” said Spearman.
“2021 has been a monumental year. In the city of Lethbridge, we take truth and reconciliation seriously and we are going to take this day to reflect,” said Spearman.
In June, Ottawa declared Sept. 30 a federal statutory holiday but the province of Alberta has left it up to “provincially regulated industries” to decide to grant a holiday to staff.
“It’s very much a factor here in the city of Lethbridge; we have been trying to raise awareness, trying to create understanding of what truth and reconciliation means with the full support of the reconciliation Lethbridge advisory committee. And I think when the federal government declares this day we need to move forward and take it seriously,” Spearman said.
“We always want to honour the day and become more understanding.”
Starting in September, new flagpoles outside City Hall will permanently fly the Blackfoot Confederacy flag.
Spearman addressed the lack of support by the province saying “there’s complications around the way this has been announced. I understand the purpose and support the reason for this day but there are some practical considerations that many organizations have to work through. And I think they are trying to do that. It was just announced in the last six weeks so how do organizations respond in that kind of time frame? I think that’s the challenge many are having,” said the mayor.
“What we want to do is say we are serious about truth and reconciliation so we will be honouring it from the perspective of our city employees,” Spearman said.
Stein said “this holiday is more akin to Remembrance Day; it’s a day where we should be reflecting, we should be having conversations with our friends and family about the importance of this day. And really educating ourselves about the legacy of genocide in this country, the legacy of residential schools and . . . and identifying what we should be doing as individuals.”
Stein added “we take this day seriously, we take truth and reconciliation seriously.”
He said it’s important for the city to honour its relationship with Indigenous people “and to advance truth and reconciliation.”
The city will hold its fifth annual Reconciliation Week on Sept. 20-24.
“There will be a number of events all around the community, city, almost the entire month of September and we’ll have some special events for September 30, said Stein. Details for those events will be released in coming weeks.
Scout called Sept. 30 “a day to honour the survivors, honour the ones that were lost and for everyone to kind of reflect upon what happened and how it still impacts us today.
“I think it shows great leadership,” Scout said of the City’s decision to recognize the day.
“And it’s just part of the work we’ve been doing for the past few years.”
She added “I’m a little disappointed” about the lack of full-fledged support for the holiday but “I realize that it was kind of a quick response to what happened in May with the bodies that were discovered so I’m hoping it’s just a process thing that’s going to take time and maybe they’ll observe it next year.”
Scout said people who haven’t recognized the holiday should “think about the community that they live in, how many residential schools operated here and how many people that it actually affects still to this day.”

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