The City of Prince Rupert is setting a precedent for its future by implementing a new Framework for Reconciliation Policy (FRP) introduced at the regular council meeting on Oct. 3.
The document is initially intended to serve as a basis for establishing a future action plan to propel reconciliation and more equitable relationships. The policy will develop with recommendations from a committee comprised of Indigenous community representatives, Councillor Reid Skelton-Morven explained on Sept. 30. It is a ‘“living breathing document” that will continuously evolve into the future.
“The whole point of this is to make moves towards improving relationships in coastal First Nations, various MOUs, (Memorandums of Understanding) as well as collective prosperity agreements so we can actually have more of a corrective experience in relationships between communities,” the councillor said.
“We have to look at how we’re all going to work together,”said Hereditary Chief Clarence Nelson, Nis Toyx-, of Metlakatla.
Skelton-Morven first suggested the action plan several months ago and city staff been working it ever since. The framework is guided by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Principles of Reconciliation, which recognizes the rights of Indigenous people, the need for healing and apology, the legacies of colonialism and the need for equity and justice.
“Reconciliation is not just a box that we tick off … for me, I try to look beyond reconciliation. Beyond reconciliation are relationships,” Skelton-Morven told The Northern View.
A significant inclusion in the policy is a territorial acknowledgement that will be bound into city council meetings. Previous meetings were opened by the mayor and it wasn’t conducive to have multiple people in that council meeting process, he said, but going forward it will always be in the opening, the councillor said.
The FRP also embraces the city’s commitment to several areas such as the United Nations Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous peoples (UNDRIP); Identity, language and culture; Employment; Relationship building, development and housing.
The city has been working on local agreements with Ts’msyen leadership on “specific opportunities for aid/mutual benefit”, a report presented to the council stated.
“… However there remains opportunity to entrench these actions and also to take actions that will have broader impact and visibility to residents. The city’s intent is to clearly signify to Prince Rupert residents that the city is committed to the values and goals of the TRC and build equitable relationships between government and Indigenous Nations.”
“This policy framework is not a final document, but a first effort at beginning an ongoing conversation for our community that will include future opportunities for input,” the report stated.
Norman Galimski | Journalist
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