City Takes Step Toward Fighting Racism
It was a historic day for the City of Regina as Mayor Michael Fougere promised to more actively address the issue of racism in Saskatchewan.
14 Jun 2017
Story and Photo by Jennifer Ackerman
Mayor Michael Fougere, centre, and FSIN Chief Bobby Cameron, left, sign a memorandum of understanding on the elimination of racism Tuesday at the First Nations University of Canada. Chiefs Roger Redman, right, along with Michael Starr and Alvin Francis also signed.
The first of its kind in Regina, a memorandum of understanding titled the Elimination of Racism throughout our Ancestral Lands/ Province was signed Tuesday by Fougere on behalf of the city. Chief Bobby Cameron signed on behalf of the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations.
The agreement commits the city to providing education for all staff and elected officials on treaty history, residential schools and the inherent rights of indigenous people. It was signed on Treaty 4 territory at First Nations University of Canada.
“It’s about working together. It’s about respecting one another. Don’t we all want to be accepted for who we are and what we are? I know I do,” said Cameron after the signing ceremony. He said the agreement is about working together to create a good quality of life for everyone no matter what their culture or religion may be.
“This is a very important formalized step to say that we acknowledge there are issues related to indigenous peoples in our city ... and we’re dealing with those at the local level here. Particularly, education of our staff and of Regina residents in general,” said Fougere.
In a press release distributed Tuesday, the city acknowledged the agreement is not only a step toward eliminating racism, but also a way to honour the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s calls to action. The agreement was generated by the FSIN to make sure the language used in it reflects the culture and beliefs of indigenous people.
“We want to honour their view of how they see the world — how they see Regina and Saskatchewan,” said Fougere. He said the agreement is a way to rebuild relationships between indigenous and non-indigenous people and expressed hope that people can learn from the mistakes of the past and move forward to build a city that everyone can benefit from. Cameron said the fact the city consulted the FSIN on the language of the agreement shows a lot of respect.
The agreement will not only help educate those who work for the city and build relationships, but also sets a good example for youth, said Cameron.
“Those that are watching the news tonight or tomorrow morning or that are reading the news, they’re going to say ‘Hey, the First Nations and non-First Nations are doing it. There’s validity to this agreement,’ ” said Cameron. “Walk the walk, talk the talk, very important to do.”
According to Cameron, the FSIN hopes to have more agreements signed across the province, but that education awareness for children is even more important.
“Every one of us are born into this world with an innocent mind and spirit, and what we’re saying is that (racism) is a learned behaviour and it can be unlearned,” said Cameron. Fougere expressed the same sentiment, saying education can go a long way toward combating racism.