Adams Lake First Nation goes ahead with own reconciliation crosswalk after Village of Chase refusal | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Adams Lake First Nation goes ahead with own reconciliation crosswalk after Village of Chase refusal

Image Credit: SUBMITTED/Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc

The chief of Adams Lake Indian Band said it is both upsetting and unacceptable the Village of Chase voted against an Every Child Matters crosswalk.

Three First Nations communities and the Village started discussing the project a year ago, but when the decision finally came to the table in Chase earlier this month, the village council opted not to pay $625 to paint the crosswalk.

"The decision made is very upsetting — in particular its message that it sends to children, youth and intergenerational survivors as well as the residential school survivors themselves. All of the children and youth of Chase know and understand the horror of the genocide and racism," Kukpi7 (Chief) Lynn Kenoras-Duck Chief said in a statement. "The crosswalk would have been something to be proud of and to allow our children to continue to learn and talk about this important issue."

The Village would have shared a $2,500 cost with Adams Lake Indian Band, Neskonlith Indian Band and Skwlax te Secwepemcúl?ecw (Little Shuswap Indian Band), aimed to be completed in time for National Truth and Reconciliation Day on Sept. 30.

Adams Lake issued the statement today, Sept. 21, titled No Truth Reconciliation in Chase.

"Reconciliation is not an Indigenous project; it is a Canadian project," Kenoras-Duck Chief said. "Non-Indigenous Canadians must engage in this critical effort to implement the Calls to Action of the Truth and Reconciliation Report and to work towards meaningful and substantive reconciliation."

The Village did not release its design choices for the proposed crosswalk nor its location, but it would likely would have been modelled after the feather-laden orange crosswalk in downtown Kamloops, which was unveiled last spring.

The sidewalk was turned down in a 2-2 vote at a council meeting in Chase on Sept. 12, with the fifth councillor out of province at the time. Without a majority in favour, the proposal couldn't pass.

READ MORE: Chase councillors mum on 'Every Child Matters' crosswalk opposition

Councillors Collin Connett and Fred Torbohm voted against the proposal. Neither wanted to explain why they opposed the project, but Connett did say he was skeptical of the $625 bill, suggesting it would cost more.

"I'll just keep that to myself right now," Connett told when asked about his decision.

Torbohm declined to comment when reached by phone.

"I don't think I can give you that information," he said, going on to say he wouldn't "do business" over the phone.

In her statement, Kenora-Duck Chief said the costs of the crosswalk and its maintenance were low and she is unconvinced the council opposition was related to costs.

"It seems that the issue is not really the financial ramifications but a lack of will and a lack of connection with or commitment to the aims of reconciliation," she said. "The Village should take into consideration more closely that the three Secwepemc Bands are important contributors to the economy of Chase and embrace opportunities such as this for joint projects."

A recording of the council meeting and debate was not available online and Village staff said it would require a Freedom of Information request to obtain.

Mayor David Lepsoe has decided the item will return to the council table at its Sept. 26 council meeting. Kenoras-Duck Chief said the Band hopes the Village council will vote change to embrace the idea.

"Silence and acts of refusal were part of the silencing that allowed the truth of the residential schools and the children buried there to be hidden away," she said. "There must be truth before reconciliation."

Kenoras Duck-Chief said Adams Lake will unveil its own crosswalk at an event on Sept. 30, using feather templates the City of Kamloops had for its crosswalk. Those wishing to go can join the Truth and Reconciliation Day ceremony at the Adams Lake band office in Chase at 1 p.m.

That project is solely funded by Adams Lake, with the expectation the other two Bands will still contribute funding if the Chase politicians vote in favour.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Levi Landry or call 250-819-3723 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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