Indigenous Land Acknowledgement for Richmond Hill

June was National Indigenous History Month in Canada. This month marked some very grim discoveries of the remains of children buried in unmarked graves at two residential schools in Canada. This discovery is shocking beyond words and many Canadians have come together to mourn the death of these innocent young lives. Further many people have come to a greater understanding of the reality that the residential school system in Canada represented.
For many years, and especially since the public consultations for the 2015 Truth and Reconcilliation report, it became obvious to more and more Canadians that the residential school system was not intended to educate children. It was designed, in the words of one of its founders Duncan Campbell Scott, “to get rid of the Indian problem”. Many have referred to this residential school system as a tool for what is now widely recognized as a cultural genocide. It has also become obvious to many that this residential school system, along with a number of other systems, including the Indian Act have been responsible for racism and discrimination toward Indigenous people in Canada.
For much of June Richmond Hill flew all of our flags at half mast in solidarity with other municipalities across Canada to honour the lives of the deceased Indigenous children. Council also finally approved a staff report that directs staff to create wording for a Land Acknowledgement that Council can use to begin Council meetings. My hope is this will begin in the fall.
I fully realize that no single act, in and of itself will correct any of the harm that has been inflicted on Indigenous people in Canada, but the Land Acknowledgment is a good first step to honour Indigenous people, create a greater awareness about what really took place in Canada’s past, and the discrimination that is still happening today.
I was happy to move this motion forward. I look forward to staff reporting back on this Land Acknowledgement and also on further actions that we, as individuals, as a municipality, and as a country, can take that are outlined in the Truth and Reconciliation Final Report.