The privilege of forgetting

Photo of the City’s logo for the 2019-2022 strategic plan.  Source .

Photo of the City’s logo for the 2019-2022 strategic plan. Source.

During council’s April 10, 2019 strategic planning session council said it wanted to include in the plan addressing the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) Calls to Action.

TRC work intends to deepen and broaden our understanding about the history and legacy of the Canadian residential school system (truth), and demonstrate an ongoing commitment and action to right these wrongs by working alongside the First Nations and Peoples of this land with respect (reconciliation).

This work is relevant for federal and provincial governments, as well as municipalities. In fact, 15 of the 94 calls to action ask municipalities directly or all levels of government in general to take responsibility for truth and reconciliation.

On April 29, 2019 council was presented with a draft of the strategic plan and the TRC calls to action were missing. I didn’t notice.

This forgetting isn’t good, but it isn’t surprising either. As a non-Indigenous person whose family settled in Canada relatively recently, the trauma of residential schools is something I will forever be learning about and not something I or my family know closely. In this way, I have the privilege of forgetting.

It is important to recognize and talk about this mistake. That’s why on May 27, 2019 at our most recent strategic planning session I reminded council of this forgetting, and as a council and staff we agreed to include in the strat plan a commitment to understand and embed the recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in our internal processes and service delivery.

As we move forward with this commitment to the TRC calls to action we will also need to familiarize ourselves with and act on the calls to justice in the more recent report Reclaiming power and place: The final report on the national inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls.

The City of Waterloo is currently looking for your input about how to turn the six strategic goals into action. Please have your say here!

Jen Vasic