Indigenous People and Reconciliation
We recognise and respect that New Westminster is on the unceded and unsurrendered land of the Halkomelem speaking peoples. We acknowledge that colonialism has made invisible their histories and connections to the land. As a City, we are learning and building relationships with the people whose lands we are on.
New Westminster has been settled on the unceded territories of multiple First Nations. Today the descendants of these Nations continue to live here as well as within the boundaries of more recently established municipalities neighbouring the City. In 2018, City Council initiated a process to improve relationships with these Nations; to better understand and respect their interests to these lands; and to seek ways to work together towards reconciling our past relationships.
In December 2016, the New Westminster Museum and Archives opened the Witness Blanket exhibition at Anvil Centre. This exhibition inspired a community-led event, Community Stories of Truth and Reconciliation, which generated recommendations for reconciliation. Residents presented their recommendations in the document Reconciliation and the City of New Westminster: A Community Journey, which was endorsed by Council in April 2017.
In 2018, the City of New Westminster identified Reconciliation, Inclusion and Engagement as a priority in the 2019-2022 Strategic Plan, which directed the City to actively and meaningfully engage with Indigenous nations, bands, communities, and individuals to develop enduring relationships. To accomplish this, the City is working to develop a Reconciliation Framework that includes information on the practices of other jurisdictions and is based on engagement with Indigenous nations, bands, communities, individuals and the community at large. The principles and guidelines of the Reconciliation Framework will be incorporated in City strategies, plans, and policies. Additionally, the City agreed to develop and implement an outreach, education, awareness, and advocacy program around reconciliation actions for City Council and staff, and the community at large.
During the 2018-2019 period, the City navigated the complexities of building relationships with local nations and with the urban Indigenous community and further researched the City’s colonization history and its impacts on local nations. In 2019, with the help of reconciliation consulting firm Castlemain Group, the City developed a Reconciliation Framework Communications Strategy through a series of internal workshops with City Council and senior staff. The draft strategy prioritized communication with the Nations that either have existing relationships with the City or are in close proximity to the City. Workshop discussion also touched on consultation methods for regulated projects.