June 14th, 2024

Committee examines reconciliation focus

By Al Beeber - Lethbridge Herald on February 19, 2022.

LETHBRIDGE HERALDabeeber@lethbridgeherald.com

Several key areas will be focused upon in 2022 in the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls Recommendations and Work Plan.
Perry Stein, the City’s Indigenous Relations Advisor, gave an update on the plan to the Cultural and Standing Policy Committee of Lethbridge city council on Thursday.
Stein told the committee focus areas for this year include:
* The Indigenous women’s emergency shelter needs assessment;
* Launch of Indigenous awareness training for City staff;
* Indigenous Legacy Commemoration Project – community engagement;
* Benefits driven procurement;
* Reconciliation implementation plan update;
* Eyes in Motion program expansion;
* Recreation and culture fee assistance pilot;
* Continued support for Sisters in Spirit and downtown cultural programming.
Stein said the shelter was “the highest priority need identified by the community when we were developing the recommendations to bring to council. So we have identified a Blackfoot researcher and we are very excited to work with her and we’re just finalizing the procurement pieces on that and she’ll be initiating her work in the next few weeks to bring back a needs assessment” and to help develop an advocacy strategy to work with other levels of government to move that forward.
The commemoration project reflects a need to commemorate victims, families and survivors of genocide, Stein said.
He said the city’s reconciliation plan is five years old, which he called quite amazing since other cities are only now starting the process of developing one, and it will be updated to meet the needs of the community.
Eyes in Motion, an existing program of Lethbridge Transit, will be reviewed to ensure it has opportunities to support Indigenous women in distress.
The MMIWG recommendations and work plan were approved in 2021 and in the past year significant work has been done to advance it, Stein’s report said.
That work is in several areas including social supports, economic development and employment, governance and education and raising of awareness.
Stein also said work is being done with the United Way “on a number of programs including the development of an anti-racism campaign and the advancement of the Rec and Culture assistance work.”
The University of Lethbridge is also working with the City on the anti-racism campaign through its Dhillon School of Business and by providing general support for the educational work the City does here, he said.
The United Way campaign “takes a social marketing perspective to encourage allyship in our community and that was based on some of the cultural advice from our reconciliation members that from a Blackfoot perspective, we should be emphasizing a strength-based approach and a positive approach as opposed to a negative approach,” Stein said.
The library, Sage Clan, the Blood Tribe and other groups have also been working with the City on other projects, he said.
Last February, he said work was started on development of an Indigenous awareness training program for city staff. The plan included a direction to ensure mandatory training for all city staff. He said the City is in the development phase and will be looking to pilot some training in upcoming months.
Stein said a gender-based analysis has been incorporated into the council submission process partnered with the City Clerk’s office to provide resources to staff so “when they’re analyzing the social impacts of the recommendations or reports they’re bringing to council, that lens can be incorporated.”
He said a Memorandum of Understanding has been signed with the Kainai Nation that was ratified last May and signed in September.
Last year, the City had its first intake of Indigenous summer students “which was a very successful project. We had six Indigenous summer students across the organization in very different departments including finance, purchasing, the waste and recycling centre, the Lethbridge Public Library, the Galt Museum and have just now been working on the second year of intake for that program and we’ll be releasing those positions in the next couple of weeks,” Stein said.
He said work is being done with the university, Lethbridge College and Red Crow College to find students to fill some of those positions.
When asked by councillor Jeff Carlson what tangible impacts the plan is intended to provide, Stein said there are several.
The first, Stein told Carlson, “from a community’s perspective, I think this is to demonstrate the broader community and the City of Lethbridge as an organization (that) cares.”
The second is an “emotional perspective” in that the community demonstrates its ability to be compassionate and empathetic and to care.
The third piece, which he said is more of a corporate outcome, “is to strengthen our relationships.”
“We have had a growing and a strengthening relationship with Indigenous community partners in the last number of years and in particular, the last three years, even more so in the last 12 months since this work plan was adopted,” Stein said.
He said the number of organizations and municipalities across the country reaching out for advice, partnership and collaboration with the City “has grown exponentially.”

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