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Kawartha Lakes adopts new Indigenous Peoples related policies

DAN CEARNS, The Standard

KAWARTHA LAKES: On National Indigenous Peoples Day, Tuesday, June 21st, the City of Kawartha Lakes officially adopted multiple policies in regards to First Nations people and a new land acknowledgement.

“The policies respond to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s (TRC) Calls to Action to redress the legacy of residential schools and advance the process of Canadian reconciliation,” a Kawartha Lakes press release stated.

One of the adopted policies is a First Nation’s consultation policy.

“The City of Kawartha Lakes does not currently have any policy respecting its consultation practices with the First Nations [which] have historical ties to the geographic region [which] is the City of Kawartha Lakes. Many statutes ([as in the] Planning Act, Heritage Act, [and] Environmental Assessment Act) set out the City’s obligations to consult with First Nations [which] may be impacted by development. The purpose of the proposed Consultation Policy, attached at Schedule A, is to itemize these various statutory requirements, so Staff have a clear understanding of the City’s obligations,” read a report from City Solicitor Robyn Carlson.

The press release explained, council also adopted a Repatriation Policy “to address repatriation of Indigenous artefacts and remains and sharing of archival information with First Nations.”

Lastly, an education policy was adopted as part of reconciliation efforts.

“The purpose of the Education Policy, at Schedule D, is to provide a foundation upon which Council and the Planning Advisory Committee can provide a land acknowledgement. In other words, taking advantage of the education provided, pursuant to the Education Policy, will allow Council and the Committee to understand the factual basis for the land acknowledgement,” Ms. Carlson’s report read. “A further and related purpose of the education policy is to provide a foundation for staff upon which they can feel confident in carrying out the City’s statutory obligation to consult.”

The report added, city councillors and staff members will be educated “on the history of Aboriginal peoples, including the history and legacy of residential schools, the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Treaties and Aboriginal rights, Indigenous law, and Aboriginal–Crown relations.” Those who take part will undergo “skills-based training in intercultural competency, conflict resolution, human rights, and anti-racism.”

At the June 21st meeting, Mayor Andy Letham read a land acknowledgement and called the newly adopted policies “important.”

“Council has endorsed these recommendations and have been in consultation with First Nations [people]. This is our commitment to starting the process for truth and reconciliation,” he said.

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