Calgary council OK's proposal for Indigenous relations office at City Hall

Council voted to establish an Indigenous relations office at City Hall, agreeing unanimously with a motion sponsored by Coun. Brian Pincott.

Motion proposed by Coun. Brian Pincott passes with unanimous support

Coun. Brian Pincott's motion to set up an Indigenous relations office was approved by council on Monday. (CBC)

City council is in favour of setting up an Indigenous relations office at Calgary's Municipal Building.

The concept was proposed by Ward 11 Coun. Brian Pincott, whose motion to have city administrators  look into creating the new office passed unanimously Monday.

Pincott pointed out that the city has just one one staff member who deals with Indigenous issues, even though Calgary has had an urban affairs committee since 1979, established to make recommendations to council regarding the needs of First Nations citizens. 

Other Canadian cities have established more formal offices, including Edmonton. 

Pincott says the decision to fly the Treaty 7 flag permanently in front of City Hall and renaming the Langevin Bridge were important symbolic gestures to foster reconciliation, but that more work needs to be done.

Other initiatives underway in Calgary 

There have been other initiatives launched recently in Calgary to promote awareness of Indigenous culture.

The Calgary Centre for Newcomers is launching a program designed to teach new Canadians about the culture of First Nations.

"It's important because, as newcomers come into our society, it's important that they understand the full scope of Canada," the centre's CEO, Anila Lee Yuen, told the Calgary Eyeopener.

"And as we want to help newcomers integrate into Canadian society, our Indigenous community is a really big part of our society."

Staff members at the centre are undergoing Indigenous cultural competence training and they're working with other agencies and Indigenous groups to get the program started.

Mount Royal University's ongoing efforts to promote Indigenous culture earned the school a coveted designation this week from an international group that promotes social innovation.

Ashoka named MRU a Changemaker Campus, putting the Calgary university in the company of prestigious U.S. schools such as Brown, Cornell and Duke.

"Mount Royal University has made a significant commitment to Indigenization," Jill Andres, MRU's Changemaker in Residence, told the Calgary Homestretch.

She says the university has made changes to its curriculum, and there have been symbolic changes, too.

"There are two important flags that fly at MRU permanently now. One is the Treaty 7 flag and the other is the flag of the Metis Nation."

Andres says part of the commitment is to recognize the contribution of Indigenous culture to the different ways of knowing, learning and sharing knowledge. 

With files from the Calgary Eyeopener and the Calgary Homestretch