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Kamloops workshop looks to turn Truth and Reconciliation recommendations into action

August 11, 2016 - 1:00 PM

KAMLOOPS - Over 100 people gathered at Thompson Rivers University yesterday to look at how they could turn recommendations from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission into action.

The group, including Kamloops city councillors and First Nations councillors, gathered to discuss how the commission's 94 recommendations could become part of individual's everyday lives.

The workshop was a collaboration between the university’s aboriginal education department, the Shuswap Nation Tribal Council and the Indigenous Law Research Unit at the University of Victoria. Leading some of the discussion was Dr. Rebecca Johnson, a law professor from the University of Victoria.

“The goal is really to help people find manageable, practical, hopeful, doable things they can do in their own, everyday lives in order to make the commission’s recommendations come to pass,” she says.

The commission's recommendations were directed to all Canadians, not just politicians or policy writers, Johnson says, and the workshop was a way to reach out to the community to help educate people about the commission and break it down to simpler pieces.

Some of those small pieces include learning the names of the First Nations of B.C., learning about the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples or reading memoirs written be people who went through residential schools.

“Go to museums and look at indigenous art, know the name of indigenous athletes,” she says. “These are things that are actually in the recommendations.”

She also suggests residents learn which treaty covers where they live, or if they are living on unceded territory.

“Kamloops is on unceded Secwepemc territory,” she says. “More than 70 per cent of B.C. is unceded territory.”

Kamloops city councillors Arjun Singh and Donovan Cavers were two of the nearly 120 attendees. City hall is looking at the recommendations, Singh says, and trying to figure out how to engage with them.

“It’s not always going to be the easiest process,” he says. ”There are issues where there are significant challenges to work through in terms of land claims.”

Consent around projects is another important issue to Singh but he says the strong relationship between the city and the Tk'emlups te Secwepemc First Nation will help in discussions.

“We definitely have to recognize the wrongs that were committed in the past and also the energy that’s building in the community and the country,” he says. “On the face of it it’s quite daunting but I think there’s a lot opportunity to do things.”

To contact a reporter for this story, email Brendan Kergin or call 250-819-6089 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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