Tk’emlups te Secwépemc Chief Rosanne Casimir said discussion amongst Kamloops council to introduce meetings by acknowledging ancestral Secwépemc lands is “important.”
She said doing so would show respect, provide opportunity to educate the public and combat past and present injustices.
“It is something that we deem as extremely important,” Casimir said.
The city and Tk'emlups are discssuing wording of such an acknowledgment before introducing it at meetings. At Thompson Rivers University, events begin with such an acknowledgment.
Casimir said T’kemlups is proud that B.C. was the first province to acknowledge UNDRIP — the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
The Declaration emphasizes the rights of indigenous peoples to maintain and strengthen their own institutions, cultures and traditions and to pursue their development in keeping with their own needs and aspirations. It establishes a standard for eliminating human rights violations against indigenous peoples worldwide and for combating discrimination and marginalization.
Casimir said in its simplest form, UNDRIP is the City of Kamloops working with Tk’emlups directly on anything that occurs within city boundaries — essentially involving the band in any decision that would impact it, such as the Riverside Park flood-mitigation project, preliminary archaeological work for which unearthed archaeological sites in the park of importance that show continuous occupation of the land for up to 4,000 years.
Casimir said it is not about consultation, but inclusion and involves a consent-based approach.
City council and staff are currently educating themselves about UNDRIP. A council workshop and a new committee are also planned. The city has also brought in an archaeologist to discuss with staff in the civic operations department about what to do when they come across something of note in the field.
Kamloops Mayor Ken Christian said the city is committed to learning.
“We’re not getting it perfect, but we’re committed to kind of trying to figure this out,” he said.
Tk’emlups Coun. Justin Gottfriedson said he appreciates the city’s effort to educate and its willingness to learn.
“I think that’s an incredibly important concept,” he said.