Langford council is mulling over starting future council and committee meetings with an Indigenous land acknowledgement, the last municipality in the Greater Victoria area to do so.
Coun. Lillian Szpak told council at its Oct. 4 meeting the issue prompted a lot of discussion during the previous meeting of the protective services committee, which she chairs.
“As we look over our agenda for today let us be mindful of the potential implications that our decisions have on Indigenous peoples and their traditional territories; and to consider the common interests we have with neighbouring First Nations governments who are also making decisions, and passing laws that support a sustainable region,” Szpak said, reading the proposed wording for the acknowledgement.
Council didn’t vote on the matter as it wasn’t included on the agenda, but agreed to take it under consideration for future meetings.
Szpak later told Black Press Media that she spoke with Mayor Stew Young, who said consultation on the matter needed to take place with local Indigenous groups. She expected it to come before council within a month, especially with the added impetus of the first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation on Sept. 30.
“It has been discussed informally at council in the past, but it’s just never been put on the agenda as a priority,” she said. “It was just one of those things where the Capital Regional District a few years ago started doing acknowledgments, as well as the regional water commission which I’m on, we started doing acknowledgments. So I think it’s kind of timely that Langford look at this now.”
Langford is the only municipality remaining in Greater Victoria that doesn’t already do some form of territorial or land acknowledgement before its council meetings, either verbal or written.
Back in January, Surrey city council attracted some controversy after they voted 5-4 against reading a land acknowledgement before the beginning of every council and committee meeting.
Mayor Doug McCallum told council on Jan. 11 that the city is a “leader” in “dealing with First Nations,” claiming that “we treat them better in Surrey literally than anywhere.”