It is not clear yet when a portrait of Queen Elizabeth II will return to council chambers.
Randy Humble, Sidney’s chief administrative officer, said Mayor Cliff McNeil-Smith will “have further announcements” about the portrait, as well as a piece of Aboriginal art and the town crest, during his Mayor’s Report at a council meeting in the coming weeks before Christmas.
When asked for comment, McNeil-Smith said he has no further comment at this time, referring instead to Humble’s statement.
Council is scheduled to have regular meetings on Dec. 2 and Dec. 16 with a committee of the whole meeting on Dec. 9.
Humble said in earlier emails that “we look forward to having the portrait back within the next few weeks” along with the town crest. “The First Nations piece has taken a bit longer than anticipated,” he said. He did not give specific reasons for the delay.
McNeil-Smith last month apologized for changes in the decor of council chambers that included the removal of a portrait of Elizabeth II. He said in the statement that it was his decision to remove the portrait. “I decided to temporarily take it down until the Sidney Town Crest and First Nations piece were ready to go up together with the Portrait,” he said.
While the statement did not give an exact date, McNeil-Smith earlier talked about that happening in December.
McNeil-Smith said in his statement that he visited many communities with crests hanging prominently in their council chambers. “I believe it would be most appropriate to have the Sidney Town Crest hang on the wall behind me,” he said.
The mayor said in his remarks that Sidney commissioned a crest in the late 1960s. A large carving hung in council chambers for many years until it became damaged. A small replica of an updated crest currently sits on his desk.
McNeil-Smith’s statement also addressed the question of why he did not leave the portrait behind him or move elsewhere until the town crest and First Nations piece were ready.
“To be honest, giving the First Nations territorial acknowledgement felt empty with only the portrait, which yes, represents our Constitutional Monarchy, but is also seen as a symbol of our colonial past,” he said, in pointing to the Canadian Truth and Reconciliation Commission and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which he says speaks of “decolonization and reconciliation.”
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