City of Vernon Coun. Kari Gares encourages Vernonites to log on to celebrate Canada Day 2020 alongside council colleagues in a video published June 19, 2020, during the COVID-19 pandemic. (YouTube)

Vernon councillor calling for reconciliation action

Discovery of unmarked children’s graves, ‘an eye opener’

The discovery of unmarked graves at Indigenous residential schools has one local politicians calling for action.

Coun. Kari Gares has made a notice of motion, which will be brought up at the Monday, June 28, council meeting, based around reconciliation.

“This is obviously is a huge eye-opener for us,” Gares said at the last council meeting.

She is asking her colleagues to authorize the mayor to write a letter to the federal government to implement calls to action as outlined in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) report.

“The truth and reconciliation report had 94 calls to action,” Gares said. “As of today, nine of the resolutions have been completed.”

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She said she specifically wants to see calls of action 75, 76 and 77 completed.

These involve working to develop procedures to identify, document, maintain, commemorate and protect cemeteries at residential schools and other sites where residential school students were buried, complete with appropriate ceremonies and markers to honour the deceased (75).

And adopting strategies to protect residential school cemeteries based on principles defined by the Indigenous community most affected and from information gathered from survivors (76).

Call to action No. 77 sees all levels of government working collaboratively with the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation to identify and collect copies of all records relevant to the history and legacy of the residential school system and to provide these to the centre.

Gares is also asking her colleagues to support the mayor writing a letter to UBCM regarding the roles of local municipalities and the meaningful impact local municipalities can have with regards to the TRC and the many calls to action that local government can implement.

As part of this she wants to see staff investigate how council can implement the calls to action including supporting a National Day for Truth and Reconciliation and educating the public regarding athletic history and champions; support Indigenous athletic development and competitions; respect Indigenous territorial protocols and involvement of Indigenous communities in event planning and participation.

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