St. John's to acknowledge Indigenous territory before each city council meeting
Move a way to reckon with city's past, says Deputy Mayor Sheilagh O'Leary
St. John's city council is moving forward with plans to acknowledge the Indigenous land the city stands on before its weekly meeting.
Starting next week, each council meeting will begin with a statement that acknowledges the city's colonial history and its place as the ancestral home of the Beothuk.
The motion was approved unanimously Monday after being brought forward by Deputy Mayor Sheilagh O'Leary and Mayor Danny Breen.
"I love the fact that we are a cultural mosaic, but a big part of that picture has not been addressed to date, and I think it's very important we do so in an official capacity," said O'Leary.
She said one way the city can do that, and further position itself as a place that welcomes newcomers, is by acknowledging where the province has erred in the past, especially with regards to its Indigenous peoples.
"We need to be very cognizant of the fact that there was a lot of people who were uprooted, a lot of negative things that certainly happened to our Indigenous people by European settlement," she said.
The city joins several other Canadian cities, including Toronto and Guelph, Ont., in acknowledging Indigenous territory at council meetings.
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O'Leary said the city worked with Memorial University and the St. John's Native Friendship Centre to draft the land acknowledgement.
The full remarks that will be read at each council meeting are as follows:
"We respectfully acknowledge the lands on which the City of St. John's is situated as the ancestral homelands of the Beothuk.
"Today, these lands are home to a diverse population of Indigenous and other peoples. We would also like to acknowledge with respect the diverse histories and cultures of the Mi'kmaq, Innu, Inuit, and South Inuit of this province."