Winnipeg mayor wants Siloam Mission to own up to accusations made against it this week, make amends
Former staff spoke out about failure to allow for Indigenous cultural practices, spiritual care
Winnipeg Mayor Brian Bowman wants a local Christian humanitarian organization to take action, after it was accused of not upholding its commitments to Indigenous people and reconciliation this week.
Siloam Mission has been under fire after former employees and board members spoke out against its failing to provide cultural and spiritual care to Indigenous people — who make up 75 to 80 per cent of the community it works with.
The organization is also accused of failing to meet the spirit or specific recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples or Winnipeg's Indigenous Accord — of which Siloam is a signatory partner.
"The point of of organizations signing on to the Winnipeg Indigenous Accord is so that they can put themselves out and set some benchmarks and be held publicly accountable," said Bowman during a news conference Friday.
"I'm hoping that the organization can really listen to the concerns that are being raised and try to address them to the greatest extent possible."
Signatories of Winnipeg's Indigenous Accord are supposed to provide annual updates as to how they are making strides toward reconciliation. The city's Indigenous relations division follows up each year and an annual report is released, said Bowman, adding he has spoken about the matter with Siloam Mission CEO Jim Bell.
Siloam failed to provide follow-ups and updates about its commitments to the Indigenous Accord in 2019 and 2020, according to a statement the organization issued this week in response to allegations reported by news media.
Siloam Mission's board of directors issued a statement Friday about moving forward to provide spiritual care and cultural services to the Indigenous people it serves.
"One thing we all share is a commitment to, and compassion for, those living in poverty and homelessness in our inner city," said Bell in the statement.
"In acknowledging that mistakes have been made, we have accepted an invitation to begin a collaborative conversation in an effort to walk a path together toward resolution on these important matters."
Arrangements to provide the promised services are already underway, the statement said, adding that Siloam Mission will provide future updates.
- A previous version of this story said Mayor Brian Bowman said Siloam failed to provide follow-ups and updates about its commitments to the Indigenous Accord from 2018 to 2020. In fact, Siloam said in a statement this week that it missed the follow-ups in 2019 and 2020.Jan 08, 2021 10:25 PM CT
With files from Sean Kavanagh