Future Langley City Council meetings will begin with a statement that recognizes they are taking place on traditional First Nations territory.
Whoever chairs the meeting will start by with a statement that the City “acknowledges the unceded territories of Kwantlen, Matsqui, Katzie and Semiahmoo First Nations.”
At the Monday night (Sept. 16) meeting of Langley City council, Mayor Val van den Broek won unanimous approval for her proposal, which she described as “essential” to the process of reconciliation with First Nations people in a report to council.
“The process of reconciliation has involved creating space for survivors of colonization to speak the truth about the harms done to themselves, their families and their nations; for the broader community to acknowledge those harms; and for us to find a new pathway forward together,” the mayor’s report said.
Council voted unanimously to approve the change, but not without a few reservations expressed by councillors Gayle Martin and Rudy Storteboom, who wanted the change delayed to allow a closer look.
Martin wanted to know how common such statements are.
“I think we should find out how many councils do this,” Martin said, stressing that she was not opposed to the idea, but wanted staff to investigate further.
Coun. Paul Albrecht didn’t think that was necessary.
“We don’t need to know what other jurisdictions do,” Albrecht observed, adding such statements are made by other levels of government like the Union of B.C. Municipalities and the Federation of Canadian Municipalities.
“I think we should just move forward with this,” Albrecht said.
Coun. Nathan Pachal was also against a staff review
“That’s, in my mind, resources we could spend in a different way,” Pachal said.
Coun. Rudy Storteboom wanted to “avoid presuming” the language of the statement would be satisfactory to First Nations people.
“It’s long overdue. It’s important to get it right,” Storteboom said.
“The words that we used in the past are no longer appropriate and they are deemed unseemly by some.”
Mayor van de Broek said there was consultation with First Nations about the wording, as well as research by staff.
Coun. Rosemary Wallace, a former school trustee, noted a similar statement is routinely used in the Langley school district.
“They do it at every school board meeting,” Wallace said.
As approved, the resolution also directs City staff to invite representatives from the Katzie, Kwantlen, Matsqui and Semiahmoo First Nations to work with the mayor to develop “appropriate protocols” for the City to use in conducting City business “that respect the traditions of the Katzie, Kwantlen, Matsqui and Semiahmoo First Nations. “
At Con. Pachal’s suggestion, the language was amended to include members of council in the process.
READ MORE: Acknowledging the past
Langley Township council meetings currently do not open with a reconciliation statement.
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