'We have a lot of work ahead of us': Flag raised for Indigenous History Month
The city will soon debate an urban Indigenous strategy 2 years in the making
The eyes of Hamilton's Indigenous community will be on city hall next month when councillors debate a new strategy to serve urban Indigenous residents.
The city has been working on a strategy for about two years, and it was a topic of conversation at a city hall flag raising for National Indigenous History Month Thursday. Hamilton just hired a new lead for the project, and the strategy will come to city council's emergency and community services committee June 20.
So far, Hamilton is doing "a fine job" improving its relationship with the Indigenous community, said Cindy Sue Montana McCormack, a social planner with the Social Planning and Research Council of Hamilton. But the strategy will be "an important piece."
The flag raising, she said, shows "that the City of Hamilton is trying to achieve some goals. And we're watching them."
About 50 people gathered for the ceremony in the city hall forecourt Thursday. Flags were raised representing First Nations, Métis and Inuit people. The city's Aboriginal advisory committee organized it.
Hadahawis Parent, 23, said remembering Indigenous history is the "truth" part of Truth and Reconciliation.
Governments are getting better at building relationships with First Nations, Parent said. But it's not happening fast enough. He cited the lack of clean, accessible drinking water in First Nations communities as an area that needs improvement.
"They are doing better, but better doesn't mean good," he said. "We have a lot of work ahead of us."
The city has hired Shelly Hill to replace Shylo Elmayan as the new head of the urban Indigenous strategy. Elmayan left the position to become the new director of McMaster University's Indigenous Student Services Centre.