At its council meeting on Sept. 1, Faraday Township council voted to support the recommendation from Association of Municipalities Ontario to recognize Sept. 30 as the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, or National Orange Shirt Day. In a resolution moved by Councillor Carl Tinney and seconded by Deputy Mayor Marg Nicholson, council voted to have staff send a letter to the federal government acknowledging that they’ve adopted Sept. 30 as the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation and that all levels of government should be united as one in recognizing this day for Truth and Reconciliation with Indigenous peoples.
The gruesome discovery of thousands of Indigenous children’s graves at former residential school sites across Canada has shone a new and necessary light on the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s 94 calls to action, first released June 2, 2015. Directed to all levels of government, including municipal governments, these calls to action cover a myriad of government responsibilities including child welfare,education, language and welfare, health, justice, commemoration, museums and archives, training for public servants, and a few other specific initiatives related to reconciliation. Much work needs to undertaken to satisfy these calls to action however. As of June 30, only 14 calls to action have been completed, 23 are in progress with projects underway, 37 are in progress with projects proposed and 20 have not been started yet.
At their Aug. 14 board meeting, the AMO board of directors approved two resources for municipal governments to use to work toward Truth and Reconciliation with Indigenous peoples; one is an overview of the TRC’s "Calls to Action" for reference, and the other provides ideas and options for what municipal leaders can do to better support and engage Indigenous peoples within their municipalities. AMO stresses that these resources papers are meant to be organic and to be revised and updated when appropriate.
The second resource paper stresses that while municipal governments can’t address outstanding rights and claims issues as the provincial and federal governments can (as they are not part of the Crown under the Canadian constitution), they can be better neighbours and partners with Indigenous communities. They offer advice to municipalities on how to achieve this and also offer a page long resource list to better understand the issues, including a link to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission website at www.trc.ca. More information on these resources can be found at www.amo.on.ca
One of the TRC’s 94 recommendations, the 80th one, called upon the federal government in collaboration with Indigenous peoples to establish a statutory holiday, a National Day for Truth and Reconciliation to ensure that public commemoration of the history and legacy of residential schools remains a vital component of the reconciliation process.
Now that the federal government announced Sept. 30 as the first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation and a statutory holiday, AMO recommended that all municipalities within Ontario, including Faraday Township, follow suit and recognize this day as National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. In addition, AMO also encourages municipalities to fly the “Every Child Matters” orange flag for the month of September leading up to Sept. 30.
This motion to adopt the AMO recommendation to have Sept. 30 as the National Day of Truth and Reconciliation was brought forward Tinney and seconded by Nicholson, was voted on and approved by council. Then they moved on to other business.
After the meeting, in an email from Sept. 7 to The Bancroft Times, Dawn Switzer, the clerk and treasurer said she had no further comment on council’s resolution to support Sept. 30 as National Truth and Reconciliation Day. With regard to other steps and initiatives that Faraday may make toward Indigenous peoples within their borders, she said that council will provide support on an individual basis, as each request may differ from the other.
Michael Riley, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Bancroft Times