February 28th, 2024

City’s Truth and Reconciliation report unveiled

By Scott Schmidt on October 25, 2022.

Collin Gallant


A final report on how the City of Medicine Hat can meet recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission calls for staff training, a new advisory board, standard observance of Indigenous culture and developing a system to care for local historical sites.

“No one at this table was responsible for the residential school system, but we are all responsible for helping to set things right,” said Coun. Ramona Robins, chair of the public services committee.“This doesn’t happen all at once, and it’s not a checklist to check things off. It’s about getting on the right path and there are no short cuts. It’ll take time and some money, which is important to discuss, but (money) is not the focus.”Administrators said the wide-ranging list of 22 actions could cost $500,000 in total and would require multi-year budgeting. Those with no cost also need to be built into future work plans of departments. Both are being drawn up for the 2023-24 budget.

Other items, like a mayoral proclamation of a yearly Truth and Reconciliation Week, or greater consideration in street or park naming, are non-budget items.

The report will move to city council Nov. 7 for discussion and prioritization.
Medicine Hat did not have a residential school, but early newspaper accounts show local Indigenous children were separated from their parents to attend schools elsewhere. Day school and industrial school attendees and their descendants do live in Medicine Hat.

As such, the city therefore has no corporate records to make public, administrators say, and can’t meet a call to share any and all information about the system.

But, council’s Community Vibrancy Committee said after fact-finding and consultations this summer, other items are attainable and should proceed.

The final report of the federal Truth and Reconciliation Commission includes “94 Calls to Action” for governments, schools, institutions and individuals to address the impact of residential schools.
Locally, a Truth and Reconciliation Advisory board would be created in 2023, with a nominal budget of $10,000.
“It would be established to look at progress on recommendations as they are achieved, but also help with subsequent goal-setting,” said Mastel. “It’s ongoing work.”

Not yet included in an initial draft is the hiring of a permanent “Indigenous Relations Adviser” position. Initially an inclusion co-ordinator could be leaned on and expanded to fill that role, said Mastel.

“Other institutional partners in the community are working with us and we hope to stay co-ordinated with them,” he said.
Inclusion training aimed initially at Indigenous issues, but easily extendable to all cultures, should be made mandatory for the city workforce, it states.

That anti-racism training for all staff could be accomplished for $215,000, paid for through a corporate training and workforce development reserve.

Separately, the city should take part in a blanket exercise and Saamis Tepee guided tours would occur twice in each four-year council term at a total cost of $7,000.

The city should also review its statement of acknowledgement developed in 2021, though councillors elected last fall opened their term stating they would reconsider its somewhat limited use according to protocol.

Developing and sharing a local history of the impact of residential schools could cost $5,000.

A further $40,000 would develop a framework to promote archaeological sites in the city.

Five years ago controversy erupted in the Hat when administrators moved to restrict off-leash dog walking at the Saamis Archaeological sites to help restore vegetation on creek banks and prevent further erosion.

A further $30,000 would be now be extended to help retrieve artifacts of human remains removed from such sites.

Administrators should also engage the sports and events council about the possibility of hosting Indigenous events or games, though any event would likely take place after the 2026 locally hosted Special Olympics, and would eventually require financial support from council.

Share this story:
Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments