New Westminster, B.C. – At last night’s Council meeting, the New Westminster City Council proclaimed March 2023 to 2024 A Year of Truth as part of the City’s ongoing reconciliation efforts. The City recognizes that reconciliation can only be successfully achieved after learning and acknowledging the full truth of our colonial history. Truth-seeking will come through opportunities for City staff and the community to learn and reflect over the next 12 months, with the expectation that this truth will be applied to the City’s continued decolonization and reconciliation work.
“The City of New Westminster has begun taking steps towards recognizing the harm, trauma, and pain that has been enacted on Indigenous Peoples in the name of municipal settlement, development, and business,” said Mayor Patrick Johnstone. “Over the next year we will embark on an introspective journey to uncover the truth of how the City’s colonial practices have made invisible the histories and lives of Indigenous people.”
The concept for A Year of Truth was inspired by education and relationship-building work done by the previous City Council and the Summary Report on Actions Taken by the City of New Westminster Involving Indigenous Peoples presented to Council on October 3, 2022. The City emphasizes that this is only “a” year of truth, rather than “the,” because it may take several years to develop a deep enough understanding of the truth before reconciliatory acts can be undertaken in a meaningful way.
“New Westminster was built upon the destruction of the land and river connections of the original inhabitants, and their lives and livelihood. Truth must come before reconciliation, because it is only through understanding the full truth of the harm that was committed that one will truly understand those things that need to be reconciled,” said Christina Coolidge, Indigenous Relations Advisor.
Truth-seeking will be conducted through a variety of activities as outlined in a Report to Council on February 13, 2023. These activities include professional development opportunities for City staff, the collection of demographic data from public engagement participants and business applicants in order to better support Indigenous people, the delivery of National Indigenous Peoples Day and Truth and Reconciliation Day events with a focus on improving awareness of the diversity of the Indigenous experience and culture in the city, the development of an Indigenous Storyteller in Residence program at the Library, and public art opportunities. Further, the City’s Reconciliation Working Group will work to complete the Truth Before Reconciliation Strategy, which highlights opportunities to decolonize the City’s internal structures by identifying barriers within its policies and processes.
Achieving success in uncovering and reconciling the truth of our colonial past requires the participation of everyone in New Westminster. The City encourages the community to join them on this journey for truth, and to take part in the public programs and activities made available over the next year.
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