Oak Bay plans to take a closer look at establishing a task force for truth and reconciliation in the community.
Coun. Esther Paterson presented the concept earlier this year, and after a few late meetings and quick conversations, council voted Feb. 14 to have staff craft terms of reference for such a committee.
Paterson’s motion asked council to adopt call to action No. 43 of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada summary report. The section calls on all levels of government to fully adopt and implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples as the framework for reconciliation. The motion also asked to have that used as a framework for implementing reconciliation in Oak Bay, and that staff publish on the district’s website the adoption of, and references related to the declaration act and actions towards implementation.
Mayor Kevin Murdoch noted work is underway at the provincial level to create a framework on how municipalities should adopt the call to action into their operations. With that in mind, council agreed to support adopting it in principle, for now.
Council also unanimously agreed to the second portion of the motion, to have staff to bring forward terms of reference to establish a task force.
“I see the purpose of this task force … working with committees to identify, unify and recommend an ongoing mechanism to bring the community and communities longer term together on actions toward reconciliation,” Paterson said, adding it is a first step.
The motion specifically notes the goal is to build paths to reconciliation with Songhees and Esquimalt Nations in a manner respectful to First Nations’ resource capacity. Council members appreciated the last sentiment, with Coun. Eric Zhelka noting it could dictate how quickly the district moves on some pieces.