Starting Wednesday, the City is asking Yellowknifers what they want to see in a soon-to-be drafted reconciliation action plan.
Several “summer coffee breaks” are planned in which residents will be asked to share ideas over coffee and donuts outside the downtown post office.
What the City hears back will become part of a reconciliation action plan. Items already being suggested include lobbying higher levels of government to erect a memorial to residential school survivors, and creating an elder-in-residence program at the library.
The City is also considering creating a sacred space for ceremonies in or around Somba K’e Park, and increasing Indigenous-focused recreation and cultural programs at its facilities.
Internally, the City is looking at how to increase the number of Indigenous people working at City Hall alongside more opportunities for current staff to be culturally aware.
Indigenous relations advisor Maggie Mercredi stressed feedback from residents will form the core of the plan.
“It’s a relationship-building tool,” she told Cabin Radio. “We’re not going to say what we are going to do – we want to know what you would like us to do.
“We really want to hear the community’s voice on this, Indigenous and non-Indigenous: how they want to see their city.”
Yellowknife is located on the traditional lands of the Yellowknives Dene First Nation and the North Slave Métis. Many other Indigenous people from across the North and Canada also call Somba K’e home.
“The City of Yellowknife acknowledges that it is a colonial government structure and our community exists because of the forced dispossession of Indigenous peoples from their traditional lands,” a document meant to start the conversation around reconciliation states.
Mercredi said some of the facts presented and questions asked may make people feel uncomfortable, and there may be some resistance to the idea of reconciliation.
“That’s OK,” she said. “We need to be uncomfortable in this in order to make changes, in order to move forward with this.”
The reconciliation action plan will be drafted in the fall, with implementation starting this winter.
In addition to the coffee breaks, there are plans to hold consultations in Dettah and Ndilo, and a session is planned at City Hall for invited Indigenous leaders and businesses.
Coffee breaks will be held outside the Yellowknife Post Office on Franklin Avenue on July 17 and 24 (2:30 to 3:30pm) and July 31 (9:30 to 10:30am). Sessions are also planned for August and September.