About Indigenous Initiatives
The City of Saskatoon's work in the area of Indigenous Initiatives is rooted in the recommendations put forth by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (TRC). The TRC was a commission active in Canada from 2008 to 2015, with a mandate to document the history and lasting impacts of the Canadian Indian Residential School System on Indigenous families. Residential school survivors and family members of attendees shared their experiences during public and private meetings held across the country. The intent was to bring to light the true and lasting effects of residential schools as many Canadians did not have a full understanding of the multi-generational impacts.
In 2015, the TRC released a multi-volume final report that concluded that the removal of children from the influence of their own culture with the intent of assimilating them into the dominant Canadian culture amounted to cultural genocide. As well, the TRC released 94 Calls to Action to inspire a process of reconciliation and renewed relationships based on mutual understanding and respect.
What is the City of Saskatoon's role?
Indian Residential Schools are a part of our shared history; a history that is not well understood by many. Canada's relationship with Indigenous people has suffered as a result of the Indian Residential School System and the City of Saskatoon recognizes it has an important leadership role to play in our community's reconciliation journey. Healing and repairing that relationship requires education, awareness, and increased understanding of the legacy and the impacts still being felt.
Nine of the TRC's 94 Calls to Action apply directly or indirectly to municipal governments.
Calls to Action Directed at Governments, Including Municipal
- LANGUAGE & CULTURE (Call to Action #17): Enable residential school Survivors and their families to reclaim names changed by the residential school system by waiving administrative costs for a period of five years (2016-2021) for the name-change process and the revision of official identity documents.
- HEALTH (Call to Action #23): Increase the number of Indigenous professionals working in the health-care field; ensure the retention of Indigenous health-care providers in Indigenous communities; provide cultural competency training for all healthcare professionals.
- RECONCILIATION (Call to Action #43): Fully adopt and implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) as the framework for reconciliation.
- ROYAL PROCLAMATION AND COVENANT OF RECONCILIATION (Call to Action #47): Repudiate (reject or dismiss) concepts used to justify European sovereignty over Indigenous peoples and lands, such as the Doctrine of Discovery and terra nullius (Latin expression meaning "nobody's land"; sometimes used in international law to justify claims that territory may be acquired by a state's occupation of it) and reform those laws, government policies, and litigation strategies that continue to rely on such concepts.
- PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT AND TRAINING FOR PUBLIC SERVANTS (Call to Action #57): Provide education to public servants on the history of Indigenous peoples, including the history and legacy of residential schools, the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Treaties and Indigenous rights, Indigenous law, and Indigenous–Crown relations. This will require skills-based training in intercultural competency, conflict resolution, human rights, and anti-racism.
- MISSING CHILDREN AND BURIAL INFORMATION (Call to Action #75): Support federal government initiatives to develop and implement strategies and procedures for the ongoing identification, documentation, maintenance, commemoration, and protection of residential school cemeteries or other sites at which residential school children were buried. This is to include the provision of appropriate memorial ceremonies and commemorative markers to honour the deceased children.
- NATIONAL CENTRE FOR TRUTH AND RECONCILIATION (Call to Action #77): Work collaboratively with the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation to identify and collect copies of all records relevant to the history and legacy of the residential school system, and provide these to the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation.
- SPORTS AND RECONCILIATION (Call to Action #87): In collaboration with Indigenous peoples, sports halls of fame, and other relevant organizations, provide public education that tells the national story of Indigenous athletes in history.
- SPORTS AND RECONCILIATION (Call to Action #88): Take action to ensure long-term Indigenous athlete development and growth, and continued support for the North American Indigenous Games, including funding to host the games and for provincial and territorial team preparation and travel.
What is the City doing?
Following the release of the TRC's final reports, Saskatoon City Council unanimously declared a “Year of Reconciliation” from July 1, 2015 to June 30, 2016. City Council also decided to adopt and implement the relevant Calls to Action (those within the City's jurisdiction), and to work with community groups to promote reconciliation. At the meeting of City Council's Governance and Priorities Committee on June 21, 2021 (Indigenous Peoples Day), Saskatoon Mayor Charlie Clark asked that City Administration report back to GPC on the process and implications for adopting and implementing United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples for the City of Saskatoon.
On the saskatoon.ca/Indigenous webpages you'll find more information about how our City is responding to the TRC Calls to Action and working to promote reconciliation in our community.