Winnipeg’s First Indigenous Accord

Hello and Welcome to the May issue of Smart Biz!

Spring is here, and there’s a lot to look forward to this summer in Winnipeg – namely the Canada Summer Games and Canada’s 150th birthday!

This month I’ll be talking about Winnipeg’s first Indigenous Accord, which I’m so excited about.

Our goal for this Accord is to have it serve as a catalyst for organizations and individuals all across Winnipeg, to set meaningful goals they themselves identify, to implement the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action.

Through the Accord process, the City will encourage individuals, groups, and organizations (in the public sector, the private sector, and the not-for-profit sector) to commit to the Accord as partners.

The City’s Indigenous Relations Division will develop an annual process for organizations to set goals and share successes. The Indigenous Relations Division will also coordinate the process of tracking signatories’ goals and successes in an annual report.

The Accord will create no new bureaucracy. The City’s work to assist signatories, and to record their progress each year, will utilize existing resources.

The Accord will not prescribe outcomes. The goals will be chosen by the participants themselves, in harmony with the reconciliation principles set out by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

That’s why the Accord has been developed not as legislation, but as an invitation to the citizens of Winnipeg. An invitation I hope that many individuals and organizations (in the public sector, the private sector, and the not-for-profit sector) will embrace.

What the Accord will do is help Winnipeg keep moving forward, in strengthening our relationships with First Nations, Métis, and Inuit governments, organizations, and individuals.

Last year was the Year of Reconciliation for Winnipeg. It marked moments of significant self-realization, the beginning of new conversations about the future, and a resolution to work together to make our community more inclusive, as it was always meant to be.

My hope is that the Year of Reconciliation will one day be seen as a milestone on our journey to a better Winnipeg. But it will only prove to be a milestone if we continue our journey and continue the work we’ve begun with partnership and leadership from Indigenous and non-Indigenous citizens alike.

I am very thankful to the Mayor’s Indigenous Advisory Circle for their leadership and tireless work to develop an Accord that is right for Winnipeg. I am very thankful to the many individuals and organizations – more than 38 community organizations – who met with me to share their ideas and their wisdom and their passion for this Accord.

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission posed many critical questions for Canadians to answer. Questions about justice. Questions about human rights. Questions about how to move forward.

Trina Qaqaqq from Nunavut recently brought these questions into sharp focus once again. She is a young woman who, with young women from every federal constituency in Canada, was attending “Daughters of the Vote,” an International Women’s Day conference in the Canadian Parliament.

She spoke about problems and injustices faced by Indigenous people in Nunavut, but also in many places across the country. Problems of youth suicide, poverty, housing, and mental health care.

She said, “All we are asking for is our basic human rights. . .  .We need support and allies to assist us, work with us, and most importantly, to listen to us. Where are our non-Indigenous allies?”

The Winnipeg Indigenous Accord is a way to help answer Trina’s question so that non-Indigenous organizations and individuals who want to be allies and partners have a place to say, “Here we are.”

And so Indigenous organizations and individuals, too, can say, “Here we are”, and offer leadership and guidance and partnership as we work together toward reconciliation in Winnipeg.

I want young Indigenous people (and all Indigenous people) in Winnipeg to feel confident and assured, as full partners in this community we share. And to feel confident and assured that their knowledge, wisdom, leadership, and priorities, will be respected by the City of Winnipeg, and all signatories to the Winnipeg Indigenous Accord.

The Accord will help bring together partners in the goal-setting process. It will make the signatories’ goals visible and accessible for the whole community. And, as time passes, it will give us all a tangible sense of the progress that’s being made, by many different people, in many different areas of endeavour.

With the members of the Mayor’s Indigenous Advisory Circle, I have a strong conviction that establishing this Accord is the right step for Winnipeg.

I would like to say a heartfelt meegwetch and merci to the Indigenous Advisory Circle and to all whose ideas, inspiration, and good counsel contributed to the preparation of this Accord.

Let this be another milestone as we take one more step in our city’s journey toward healing, hope, and reconciliation.

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