The Town of Inuvik has formally adopted the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and pledged to make the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s calls to action a priority.
Inuvik follows the likes of Yellowknife and Fort Smith in adopting the declaration, which enshrines Indigenous rights worldwide. The NWT government has said it is also working toward doing so.
What adoption looks like in practice varies between jurisdictions.
Inuvik town councillors, in voting to adopt the declaration, backed the use of “leadership tables” with Indigenous groups and governments and requested cultural sensitivity training for staff.
The town is also adding the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s calls to action, issued in 2015, to its list of council priorities for twice-yearly review.
In a proclamation associated with Wednesday evening’s vote, Mayor Natasha Kulikowski said the town “repudiates concepts used to justify European sovereignty over Indigenous people and lands.”
The proclamation stated the town would continue to incorporate the principles of truth and reconciliation in its decision-making processes and actions.
In a briefing document for councillors, the town identified 14 calls to action that at least partly apply to Inuvik’s municipal government.
As a start, the document suggests establishing a leaders’ working group incorporating the town alongside Gwich’in, Inuvialuit and Métis representatives.
Also on Wednesday, councillors voted to cut down on the number of committee meetings that take place each month.
For the next six months, a range of committees that ordinarily met at least monthly will be suspended. Meetings will only be held “if required,” councillors decided.
Committee of the whole and regular council meetings are not affected and go ahead as normal.
Eliminating other committee meetings will save the town around $12,000 per year, staff estimated.
Once half a year has passed, council will review the alterations and decide whether to maintain the suspension of committee meetings or make further changes.
Lastly, council on Wednesday confirmed the “end of the Dempster Highway” sign on Airport Road, which is almost 30 years old, will be coming down.
Residents will be given a two-week period to come forward and take the sign if they wish, though anyone who wants the sign will also inherit full responsibility for safely dismantling it.
Once the sign has gone, a placard in its memory will be erected in the town.