Sunday, April 21, 2024

St. Mary’s coming up short on Truth and Reconciliation Day, says deputy warden

Alec Bruce, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

  • September 20 2023

ST. MARY’S — Municipality of the District of St. Mary’s Deputy Warden James Fuller is calling on his fellow councillors and staff to do “something substantial and honourable” apart from just flying the National Truth and Reconciliation Day flag on Sept. 30.

Fuller, who also represents District 6 (Goshen and area), told a recent committee of the whole meeting that, “There is an opportunity here to do a project that will have a real impact on understanding the issues that Indigenous people faced, are facing now and going to face in the future. I think we need to sincerely take a lead and do something substantial and honourable.”

Fuller was responding to a question from Chief Administrative Officer Doug Patterson, who asked council if there were any “outstanding” initiatives it would like staff to bring forward other than raising an official flag in honour of Truth and Reconciliation this year.

Stating that he “had no problem” flying a flag, Fuller, however, noted that a commemorative stone had been proposed for St. Mary’s two years ago. “We’d asked for something meaningful, something educational and something honourable to be done. And it hasn’t been. I’d just like to encourage staff to think this through.”

He continued: “There is an Indigenous cemetery in Sonora. Now, you would not know this unless somebody told you that, and there is nothing anywhere to tell people this history. If you go to any one of our museums or national parks, they have little information placards that briefly describe the history and give references and avenues to search out more information… I’m not saying we have to do this… but [something] like that [in places where] where people go… People go to the library. People go to the community centre.”

Fuller said flying the flag is, “Sincerely, the least that we can do. And, when I say the least, it’s the very least. You see the same flag all over. Go to Halifax. Go to Annapolis. Go to Port Royal. They are flying everywhere. I don’t want to just be part of the crowd.”

Following Fuller’s comments, Patterson told council he would compile “a list of things” members had asked for in the past and provide them with “an update on what we [staff] have done, and what can further be done.”

Established as a federal statutory holiday in 2021, the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation honours the children who never returned home from or are survivors of residential schools, as well as their families and communities. According to the Government of Canada website, “Public commemoration of the tragic and painful history and ongoing impacts of residential schools is a vital component of the reconciliation process.”