Dawson Creek local Richard Mineault met with Mayor and council at the City of Dawson Creek’s September 25, 2023 meeting, presenting a proposal for an indigenous anti-racism workshop he’s been working on for the past four years.
Actions speak louder than words, says Mineault, who feels while they can’t change Canada’s past, there is an opportunity to move forward in a healthier way.
“There’s a divide in our society, and those who don’t recognize it, obviously haven’t lived it,” said Mineault, who is of Cree descent.
Development of his program began with Mineault wanting to honour Truth and Reconciliation Commission Call to Action No. 57, which asks for professional training for public servants on the history of indigenous peoples, the impacts of residential schools, and indigenous law.
His research involved travel to indigenous communities on both Vancouver Island and reserves in Northern Alberta, noted Mineault, consulting chiefs and band council members for advice.
Titled the 'Cultural Assent Workshop: A First Nations cultural, historical, and social awareness workshop', Mineault hopes council will consider formally using his program, which he would facilitate.
“This is more than just learning about feathers and dances, and you know, the meaning of the medicine wheel - this is not about that,” said Mineault.
Without naming individuals, Mineault read aloud three comments to council he’s seen regarding indigenous people, written during Pope Francis’ visit to Canada in July 2022, using them as examples of racism present in Dawson Creek.
“This shit-bag joke of a pope should not have to apologize for attempting to civilize people who are to this day, still criminal degenerates that are unable to raise their own children. I don’t mean to generalize, but the statistics are extremely obvious.” read Mineault of the first comment from papers he brought with him.
Mineault continued by reading another comment from the same poster, and a third comment from a second poster.
“Fast doesn’t mean good. I’m a conservative who believes that every reserve should have an abortion clinic. If we could reduce the percentage of an undesirable people through contraception, then let’s do it. The champion of women’s right and abortions agrees,” said Mineault, reading the second comment.
“I’ll go get Coronavirus or Ebola, and I’ll make sure I come to the bunch of reserves and touch everything - your species will die out, and then my hard work tax money can go towards better things than your free paycheck,” said Mineault, reading the third comment.
This kind of talk exists at the street level, says Mineault, and is part of systemic racism directed at indigenous peoples.
Councillor Jerimy Earl said the materials could be valuable for council, but wants to be certain where it would be appropriate to address under city policy, as there is a cost for Mineault's program.
“Because we’re procuring a service, is that something that would then fall under the procurement policy?” asked Earl.
The city has taken part in cultural training with Doig River First Nations, inviting the Peace River Regional District and neighbouring municipalities in a government-to-government setting, prefaced Earl.
City of Dawson Creek CAO Kevin Henderson said there may be an opportunity to consider it when the city is working on budget items.
“It’s a great opportunity as we move through budget, and that’s really the opportunity for council to identify the needs for training in these areas,” he said, noting staff could also help identify if there is a need.
Earl also expressed concerns over respecting protocols from elders and band councils, asking if cultural permissions have been given for Mineault’s program.
“I want to ensure that we are respecting protocols around this,” said Earl.
Mineault said he approached the Treaty 8 Tribal Association in 2020, and was given permission to go ahead with developing the workshop.
“Their words to me was ‘We need this’ and ‘Go for it’, that’s pretty much it,” said Mineault.
Earl clarified that he wasn’t trying to question the validity of Mineault’s workshop, but wants to make sure that the city doesn’t inadvertently insult indigenous people or groups by not observing the appropriate protocols.
Mayor Darcy Dober said city council is open to the concepts presented, but asked for Mineault for clarification on the request.
“Truth and Reconciliation is a big thing, right? And moving forward it’s about building relationships, it’s about you know, yes, understanding the past and why we’re where we are today,” said Dober. “But taking one step forward each day to better our lives and everybody lives, and you know, to make this world a better place.”
“This council is very open minded and we’re always open to look at everything possible, and we’re going to ask questions and we’re going to look at things and try to make the best decision that we can for our community,” he added.
Mineault said his ask would be that council implement his workshop as city staff training, and feels it would be a step forward towards in achieving Call to Action No. 57 in Dawson Creek.
Indigenous people are often asked what others can do to help, says Mineault, noting he feels the most important thing is to listen.
“This relationship has been divided since 1867, it’s 2023. We’re at a point in history now where you guys can do something, you have it within your hands and your resources to actually do something for the City of Dawson Creek,” he said. “I’m hoping it starts here in this office and goes farther down the line, be an example.”
You can read Mineault's presentation here:
Richard Mineault - Presentation by Tom Summer on Scribd
Tom Summer, Alaska Highway News, Local Journalism Initiative. Have a story idea or opinion? Email
Tom Summer, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Alaska Highway News