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City to dedicate staff post to Indigenous initiatives

Move a response to calls for action from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission
Chief Dean Sayers, of the Batchewana First Nation of Ojibways near Sault Ste. Marie, speaks at a media conference held by signatories to the Robinson-Huron Treaty in this 2018 file photo. A report headed to city council Nov. 12 covers five calls to action from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, with an eye on promoting reconciliation between Canadians and Indigenous people. (File)

As part of its formal response to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, Greater Sudbury is planning to educate its staff and managers on the history of First Nations and the impact of the residential school system on Indigenous people.

A report headed to council Nov. 12 covers five calls to action from the commission, with an eye on promoting reconciliation.

“The City of Greater Sudbury Strategic Plan 2019-2027 acknowledges the city’s location within the Robinson-Huron treaty area and within the traditional territory of the Anishnawbek and the Métis,” the report says. “The plan states that the CGS will work to strengthen Indigenous relations towards reconciliation by, amongst other initiatives, establishing and implementing an organizational plan to respond to the calls to action from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

“With specific direction incorporated in the city’s new strategic plan, staff will build upon the existing and past efforts and will develop a coordinated and appropriately resourced strategy to reframe indigenous relations and the concepts of truth and reconciliation so that they become integral to all of the work that is carried out, and the services that are delivered, by the CGS municipal organization.”

According to the 2016 census, Indigenous people make up about 10 per cent of the city's population, and shares boundaries with Atikameksheng Anishnawbek and Wahnapitae First Nations.

“These geographic and demographic realities reinforce the importance for the city to become sensitized to the needs of these citizens and partners, and to build responsive structures and policies to ensure that the municipality and community advance towards reconciliation,” the report said.

In addition to educating staff on Indigenous culture and history, staff plan to develop working relationships with Indigenous organizations  to “allow information-sharing and common solutions-development to support improved Indigenous relations.”

The city will also create a dedicated staff position to coordinate the effort, and will apply to upper levels of government for funding to support the position, as well as any additional staff or resources that are required.

And while 10 per cent of city residents are Indigenous, just five per cent of city staff identity as Indigenous.

“Staff are actively exploring strategies to address this discrepancy and will incorporate this work in the Human Capital Management Plan that is currently under development,” the report said.

The full document is available here