Making truth and reconciliation a reality in Vancouver
Ginger Gosnell-Myers is in charge of making sure Truth and Reconciliation Commission calls to action are met
Ginger Gosnell-Myers is serious about making sure the City of Vancouver lives up to the calls to action presented out of the final report of Canada's Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
She is the first manager of Aboriginal relations in the city. It's her job to ensure policies, practices and decisions incorporate the understanding of whose land the city rests upon and what needs to be done to address the wishes and concerns of the local First Nations governments.
This translates into cultural competency training for hundreds of managers and employees in all city departments that acknowledges the city is on unceded First Nations territory.
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"It would be excellent if everybody knew that this is not a new place, that this is an ancient place," she said.
Gosnell-Myers says the hope is that staff members will channel their knowledge of how the first inhabitants used areas in the region for thousands of years when the city is planning new buildings, parks or activities.
She adds, there are also large scale events planned for the summer that go beyond celebrating Canada's 150th birthday.
"For Indigenous people, it's not really a time to celebrate and acknowledge 150 years of colonization ... but we decided we are going to celebrate 150 Plus.... We are going to make sure we focus on affirming Aboriginal peoples' place in the city," she said.
July 2017 will see a gathering of canoes, an All Nations Festival and a Walk for Reconciliation — and everyone is welcome.
Gosnell-Myers feels that positive change can't come fast enough, but she realizes it will take time.
At the very least, she says she'd like to raise awareness about how all First Nations in Canada have been treated over the last century and a half.
Gosnell-Myers says she'll know she has succeeded when Indigenous culture in both Canada and Vancouver is considered normal, and is no longer something that First Nations have to fight to have recognized.
"This is going to make the difference for how Vancouver is seen on the world stage. The more we indigenize, the more we send the message that Vancouver has unique place on the world stage because no one else has this."
To watch the interview with Gloria Macarenko from Our Vancouver, click here.