Jessica McCallum-Miller receives her signed oath of office from city chief administrative officer Heather Avison on Nov. 5, 2018 after being elected to Terrace City Council. McCallum-Miller resigned on Feb. 22, 2021, saying she felt unsupported and unheard by council. (Black Press Media File Photo)

Jessica McCallum-Miller receives her signed oath of office from city chief administrative officer Heather Avison on Nov. 5, 2018 after being elected to Terrace City Council. McCallum-Miller resigned on Feb. 22, 2021, saying she felt unsupported and unheard by council. (Black Press Media File Photo)

Terrace’s 1st Indigenous councillor resigns citing ‘systemic and internalized racism,’ sexism

McCallum-Miller said in a Facebook post she felt unheard and unsupported by council

Terrace city councillor Jessica McCallum-Miller has resigned from her position, saying in a Facebook post she felt unsupported by her colleagues when advocating for Indigenous peoples, youth and women at council.

“It is my personal belief that systemic and internalized racism as well as sexism had played a role in the inability of my colleagues to respect and understand my personal and diverse perspectives,” McCallum-Miller said in a Feb. 22 Facebook post addressed to city officials announcing her resignation, effective immediately.

McCallum-Miller was the youngest and first Indigenous councillor in Terrace’s history. She was first elected to council in 2018 with 883 votes after serving for four years as Regional District of Kitimat-Stikine director for rural Terrace, south coast. She first ran for council in 2014 at the age of 21.

“When attempting a second time to clearly define and express the need for the City of Terrace councillors to partake in localized cultural awareness training with the Tsimshian peoples of this land, it became clear to me how important that training would be,” she said in the Facebook post.

“I felt unheard, I felt spoken over, I questioned whether Truth and Reconciliation was being honoured or was a priority for our community.”

In the post, the outgoing councillor disclosed that she lives with anxiety and depression, and considered taking her own life in March 2020 as a result of her treatment on council.

“I am also an individual who finds healing through my work as an Indigenous artist, and through the practice of my culture as a Gitxsan, Nisga’a, and Tsimshian person,” McCallum-Miller said in the post.

“In order to heal spiritually and further decolonize my life I will be focusing on my sacred work so that I may help heal others one day through cultural practices and tradition.”

Terrace mayor Carol Leclerc said McCallum-Miller challenged the status quo and made council better in a Feb. 22 statement.

“Councillor McCallum-Miller provided an important and distinct perspective on many issues up for consideration at our council meetings,” she said.

“We will miss her honesty, dedication, and thoughtfulness. I would like to thank her for her service to the community and wish her all the best.”

The current term ends in the fall of 2022, so a by-election is required to fill McCallum-Miller’s vacant seat. The City of Terrace will release information on that process in the coming weeks.

READ MORE: Terrace council welcomes two new faces


@BenBogstie
ben.bogstie@terracestandard.com

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