Montreal launches a five-year Indigenous reconciliation strategy
Montreal Mayor Valerie Plante insisted that the city's five-year reconciliation plan with Indigenous people in the area was meant to be seen as a serious piece of policy and not another all-words-no-action report.
"This is not a report to be put on the shelf," said Plante in a video news conference Wednesday. "This is hope. You have to see it more as a policy than an action plan."
The plan could not come fast enough for Assembly of First Nations Quebec-Labrador regional chief Ghislain Picard and other Indigenous leaders.
"Racism against Indigenous people is a sad reality in Quebec," said Picard. "The tragic death of our sister Joyce Echaquan at the Joliette Hospital is a sad reminder of this reality."
The city's Commissioner for Relations with Indigenous Peoples Marie-Eve L. Bordeleau presented the seven strategies, which are as follows:
- Develop a government-to-government relationship;
- Improve the visibility of the Indigenous presence in the City of Montreal;
- Support the urban Indigenous community;
- Improve the feeling of safety of Indigenous people in Montreal;
- Support Indigenous cultural development in the urban environment;
- Assist the economic development of the Montreal Indigenous community;
- Promote the protection of natural spaces and environments according to the 7th Generation Principle.
Mohawk Council of Kahnawake Chief Gina Deer spoke about the work done in the past decade to improve relations including adding the white pine of peace to the centre of the city's flag and renaming Amherst St. - Ateteken.
"I'm quite impressed with Montreal," said Deer. "Valerie Plante has continued with the vision that Denis Coderre began. I'm really pleased to see the work that's being done."
Deer, who served as a Kahanwake Peacekeeper, was particularly happy to see the city include policing issues in the plan.
"That's where a lot of issues stem from in terms of the racism," she said. "The plan is definitely going to make some difference in the next little while.
Native Montreal executive director Philippe Meilleur said the plan solidifies the backend work that needed to be done in collaboration with Indigenous people.
"Without a framework, we have to explain every single piece every single time," he said. "This plan gives us a backbone."
"The groundwork that has been laid already is a good beginning and a good indication that they're serious," said Deer.