During a council meeting on Monday (June 21), which also happened to take place on National Indigenous Peoples Day, the City of Kelowna passed a motion to adopt four new strategies designed to advance the calls to action put forward by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (TRC).
City manager Doug Gilchrist told council that the city needs to show leadership and put forth “a concerted effort” to deliver the Truth and Reconciliation’s 94 calls to action, which were released by the TRC in 2015 to redress the legacy of residential schools and advance the process of reconciliation in Canada.
“While there are fewer than 10 calls to action that specifically reference local government, we know that our relationships and influence can compel others to take action as well,” said Gilchrist.
He then requested that council adopt four new strategies to advance the calls to action, the first being to allocate existing internal resources towards the development of a cultural relations program.
“This is going to help us ensure that this important work is not off the side of someone’s desk, but rather front and centre and something that we stand for vehemently,” he said.
The second strategy recommended by Gilchrist was for council to participate in region-wide Truth and Reconciliation efforts.
“I recognize that this work certainly cannot and will not be done alone. There will be a need for efforts from many institutions, other levels of government and for our citizens at large,” he said. “Certainly, we need to be at those tables.”
His third suggestion asked for council to support the idea of increasing the level of training and education around Indigenous history and Truth and Reconciliation, both at the staff and council levels.
The final recommendation asked that staff submit annual reports to council regarding these commitments for accountability purposes.
“While we cannot change the past or rewrite history, I believe as government, we do play an important role in being part of a better, more responsible, more equitable and more just future,” he said. “There’s no need to wait; we can take actionable steps every day.”
The recommendations were welcomed by several councillors, including councillor Mohini Singh, who described the suggestions as “a long time coming.”
“It’s absolutely so sad that it took something like what happened in Kamloops for us all to get to this point,” said Singh. “But at this stage, as a community, as a province, as a country, we all need to move forward with education, with love, with understanding, so thank you.”