Open letter to the Richmond Mayor and City Council,
I am a Grade 11 student from Hugh Boyd secondary and a passionate advocate for the implementation of a truth and reconciliation policy in Richmond.
I was scheduled to speak to Richmond City Council this week, as part of the recent petition and campaign to develop a municipal policy that could close the gap between Richmond and cities like Vancouver, which currently conduct land acknowledgments before meetings, host city-run events on National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, and are taking steps to incorporate the 94 calls to action, and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
While I was pleased to see Coun. Michael Wolfe’s truth and reconciliation motion pass during last Monday’s committee meeting, I believe there is still a lot of work to be done.
The motion has been added to a previous truth and reconciliation referral from June 2021, which has not been addressed in more than a year.
I hope we will see quicker progress on this motion, as the city’s actions or inactions send a symbolic message.
It is one that Richmond youth have heard loud and clear from their schools who have made truth and reconciliation a priority.
Earlier this year, for example, our class built a temporary museum that acknowledged the historical injustice of residential schools and highlighted the strength and resiliency of the local Musqueam community.
Every student in our school was able to walk through the museum to educate themselves, and to pause and reflect on how they could work toward reconciliation.
Similar lessons, projects and events are provided to students across the district.
So, as you wait for city staff to review the recently passed motion, residents could be provided with opportunities this coming year to explore truth and reconciliation through annual city-hosted events on days such as Sept. 30 or June 21, National Indigenous Peoples Day.
These actions would demonstrate today that the city cares about history and reconciliation, wants to raise the awareness of its citizens and values improving relations with local Indigenous groups.
National Day for Truth and Reconciliation should not be experienced as a day off in our city, but rather, as a day for Richmond residents to honour survivors and their families.
I believe the city has a vital role to play in shaping the experiences of Richmond citizens on Sept. 30, as properly honouring this day and potentially others.
Other municipalities across the province and country have already taken meaningful steps.
Richmond could and should readily take similar initiatives, as it is a critical gesture and sign of allyship with our local Indigenous communities and an important step in affirming the tragic events of our nation’s past.