Following racism allegations, City of Terrace seeks review from Ombudsperson

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The City of Terrace is planning to reach out to BC Ombudsperson to ask them to investigate council's practices and policies, following the resignation of Councillor Jessica McCallum-Miller last Monday.

McCallum-Miller – who was Terrace's first Indigenous councillor – said in a resignation letter on her Facebook page that she felt unsupported by council when advocating for Indigenous people, alleging that systemic racism and sexism affected the abilities of other councillors in understanding Indigenous issues.

Since then, Terrace Mayor Carol Leclerc has proposed asking the BC Ombudsperson, which investigates public institutions in the province, to review the practices of city council.

In a committee of the whole meeting held on Wednesday, councillors unanimously expressed support for the idea and have directed staff to contact the Ombudsperson.

Councillor Sean Butjas said accusations of systemic racism need to be taken seriously.

"I think that having a conversation on systemic racism and how we can all work towards diversity is important and timely. So, the real question at the end of the day is how can we open up council and be better at reflecting all of our voices. I think [Mayor Leclerc's] idea of reaching out to the ombudsperson is a good idea – I think we need to look at more of our policies."

Additionally, Councillor Brian Downie emphasized that if the ombudsperson agrees to investigate the city, the city needs to take action on their results.

"When that investigation is done, it can't be a report on the shelf. I think we have to make some commitments, some intent on developing actions moving forward."

Terrace city council is also planning to attend a cultural awareness training session with the Kitamaat Valley Educational Society, which was organized before McCallum-Miller's resignation.