In 2022 the city of Williams Lake hopes to create a standing committee for meaningful reconciliation and relationship building with Indigenous partners.
“What we might do is have different people on the committee to liaison with the different communities,” Mayor Walt Cobb said this week. “It is in the works, but we haven’t really discussed it much yet.”
Cobb is still dealing with the repercussions of sharing a post about ‘the other side of residential schools,’ to his personal Facebook page on Oct. 29.
When asked how he feels about what happened Cobb said it was unfortunate and he has done a lot of soul searching.
He said when a filmmaker doing a documentary about the St. Joseph’s Mission Residential School site investigation presently underway near Williams Lake requested an interview with him, he declined.
“I told her I’m not going to talk about this anymore. The longer we talk about it, the worse it’s going to get. Until we can sit down with the individuals, it isn’t going to get any better. It’s more of a one-on-one that has to happen for the bridges that have to be built.”
Cobb said at the end of the day he is hoping he and Chief Sellars can sit down and talk about their concerns.
“I don’t want to hash this out in the media,” he added.
During the committee of the whole meeting Tuesday, Dec. 14, council received a report from staff outlining the city’s efforts towards meaningful reconciliation and relationship building to date.
It included several resolutions council has passed, including that council be guided by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s calls to action and that council as a whole take anti-racism and Indigenous cultural awareness training.
Coun. Jason Ryll said it was good to see the report, but added council needs to work towards the recommendations that have come from UNDRIP and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
“We are being judged on our actions,” he said.
Coun. Marnie Brenner agreed that actions speak louder than words and said it is also important that council is not taking direction solely from itself but seeking direction from the surrounding communities.
On Dec. 8, Williams Lake First Nation (WLFN) chief and council announced they have postponed releasing the findings from the investigation of St. Joseph’s Mission until the new year.
“After engagement with St. Joseph’s Mission survivors, our members, and other communities we had initially concluded that it would be best to make full disclosure of our results immediately after we received them,” said WLFN Chief Willie Sellars.
“However, since we made our announcement that there would be a public session to reveal the results on December 10, a number of communities have come forward and made it clear that they do not have the necessary health and wellness supports in place to address any issues that might arise from the release of these results,” Sellars said.
“It has also become clear that people around the province are still struggling in response to recent natural disasters and we wish to avoid causing people affected by these disasters any additional stress or suffering. For these reasons we are persuaded to delay the public release of the results until the New Year.”