Mayor Don Iveson took to the stage at the Truth and Reconciliation hearings on Friday to proclaim an entire year of reconciliation in Edmonton.

“We must make ongoing and concerted efforts to remember residential schools, bear witness to the truth and begin a shared journey of reconciliation,” Iveson said.

Along with the proclamation, Iveson announced three initiatives:

  • educate all the city’s 11,000 staff on the history and impact of residential schools
  • get more aboriginal youth involved in civic programs, fill gaps in city programming and allow youth to explore careers in the public service
  • create a public space in the city for indigenous ceremonies and cultural programs

“Many of the urban aboriginal people we encounter here in Edmonton are survivors of residential schools and that trauma is part of their difficult circumstances, in many cases,” Iveson said.

Terry Lusty

Residential school survivor Terry Lusty says he's never seen a mayor make this kind of proclamation before. (CBC)

Iveson’s announcement met with approval from residential school survivor Terry Lusty, who said he’s never seen a mayor do this before.

“When a mayor himself is taking this kind of a position and openly in the public, that bodes very well for our aboriginal community,” he said.

Justice Murray Sinclair, the chairman of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, also welcomes the plan, especially with the growth in the city’s indigenous population.

“We need the leaders of our country to step up and make it clear that this is something that they believe in,” he said.

“Because if they do not do that, then the great mass of people will simply think that everything is okay.”