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Richmond Nisga’a woman to request reconciliation efforts

By Hannah Scott, Local Journalism Initiative reporter

Published 4:38 PDT, Mon June 14, 2021

A Richmond woman who is a member of the Nisga’a Nation will address city council tonight to request more Indigenous reconciliation efforts.

In a letter sent to council in advance of the meeting, Chaslyn Gillanders says the discovery of the burial site at the Kamloops Indian Residential School was “heartbreaking.”

“It is an extremely painful time and it sparks a lot of grief, anger and sadness for Indigenous people,” she says.

Gillanders is asking that the City of Richmond develop a plan to implement the Truth and Reconciliation Calls to Action, something similar to what the City of New Westminster has recently undertaken. This might include mandatory city staff trainings on the history and legacy of residential schools, as well as research to understand which Nations have a relationship to this land and how the city’s historical actions have related to First Nations.

She adds that, while she is grateful that the city lowered the flags at all its buildings for one week, “it is time to acknowledge” that Richmond is on Musqueam land through regular land acknowledgements. Another step would be choosing names for new facilities that recognize the city is on the unceded traditional territory of the Musqueam First Nation. Gillanders says the city should also update its website to include the fact that Indigenous people were on this land prior to its development as Richmond.

“By taking the steps outlined in this letter, the City of Richmond will be taking steps to remedy the status quo and work towards reconciliation and a new relationship with the Musqueam First Nation and Indigenous constituents,” writes Gillanders.

“Reconciliation is a process of healing and building relationships. Reconciliation will require enormous effort and at some point the City of Richmond will have to undertake this work because the Indigenous People are not going anywhere.”

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