Coun. Jack McClintock said he would have voted for a proposed statutory holiday recognizing residential school survivors if he had had all of the information. (Black Press Media File)

Coun. Jack McClintock said he would have voted for a proposed statutory holiday recognizing residential school survivors if he had had all of the information. (Black Press Media File)

North Saanich split over statutory holiday recognizing residential school survivors

Legislation would recognize Sept. 30 as National Day of Truth and Reconciliation

Portions of North Saanich council officially oppose plans for a new statutory holiday that would recognize First Nations including the residential school system, but at least one councillor says he would have changed his vote if he had all of the information.

Couns. Jack McClintock and Murray Weisenberger were in opposition as council voted 4-2 to write a letter of support for recognizing Sept. 30 as a National Day of Truth and Reconciliation.

The issue came before North Saanich council after Saanich Mayor Fred Haynes wrote a letter urging them to support federal legislation for such a holiday.

Saanich expressed its support in November 2020. Saanich council had earlier heard from two residential school survivors before declaring Sept. 30 Orange Shirt Day. One survivor subsequently approached Saanich council requesting a letter of support.

“The information provided by the District of Saanich speaks of two survivors of residential schools,” said McClintock. “With of all of the respect I have for them and their journey, it is two people,” said McClintock on Jan. 11. “This didn’t come as a request from a national assembly or a council of First Nations.”

RELATED: First Nation asked to recommend name for new public park in Central Saanich

McClintock acknowledged that Haynes’ letter quotes Assembly of First Nations National Chief Perry Bellegarde, who describes the residential school system as “an attempt at genocide” in calling on Canada to “right this wrong and help the former students and our nations recover and heal.”

“I don’t see in Chief Bellegarde’s statement as a request for setting aside a statutory holiday on Sept. 30,” said McClintock, adding he would support it if there were a “whole-hearted, collaborative group” in favour of such a holiday. “I don’t see the First Nations even supporting this. I see this as Mayor Haynes’ recommendation to create a statutory holiday. It’s not far off the colonial way of thinking that without consultation, we will do this and call it reconciliation.”

Mayor Geoff Orr then pointed out that the initiative originated with the federal government. “Whether that has come through directions from (First Nations) or as a request, that is a reasonable question,” said Orr.

Weisenberger said on Jan. 11 that he would support working through the Union of British Columbia Municipalities or other methods.

Comments received during the legislative process around Bill C-5 shows support from the Assembly of First Nations for the holiday.

Chief Norman Yakeleya of the Dene Nation told the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage on Nov. 20, 2020 that a national holiday could combat prejudice, eliminate racism and promote tolerance, serving as annual act of reconciliation.

“The Assembly of First Nations has been calling for this legislation since 1982,” he said. Yakeleya later said AFN’s executive committee recently passed a motion to make Sept. 30 a statutory holiday in calling on Ottawa to make it so.

“That information was not available to us at the time, when it (Saanich’s letter) was presented to us at council,” said McClintock, when shown AFN’s position.

That information would have been a “game-changer,” said McClintock. “I would have supported it had I known and had I been provided with the information that has come subsequent to the vote.”

Weisenberger said later that knowledge of AFN’s support would not have changed his vote, but echoed McClintock’s call for good relations with First Nations, especially on the personal level. “We are all on the same piece of land here.”


Do you have a story tip? Email: vnc.editorial@blackpress.ca.

Follow us on Twitter and Instagram, and like us on Facebook.

wolfgang.depner@peninsulanewsreview.com

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Don Devenney is a Goldstream Gazette 2021 Local Hero as Community Builder of the year. (Don Denton/Black Press Media)
West Shore volunteer’s efforts an exercise in adventurous pursuits

Don Devenney is the 2021 recipient of the Community Builder Award

Richard Pearce is the Goldstream Gazette’s 2021 Unsung Hero of the Year. (Don Denton/Black Press Media)
Navy veteran helping others cope with post-traumatic stress disorder

Rich Pearce is the West Shore 2021 Unsung Hero

File
The Pacheedaht First Nation is planning a $1-million expansion to its campground in Port Renfrew. (Pixabay photo)
Expanded camping announced for Pacheedaht Campground

$1-million project is part of the B.C. Rural Economic Recovery program

Cory Mills, Eric Blackmore and A.J. Jensen, all 20, drown in the Sooke River in February 2020. (Contributed photos)
Coroner’s report confirms cause of death of three men at Sooke River in 2020

Cory Mills, Eric Blackmore and A.J. Jensen drown while ‘puddle-jumping’ in pickup truck

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C.’s COVID-19 situation at the B.C. legislature. (B.C. government)
B.C. reports 10 additional deaths, 395 new COVID-19 cases

The majority of new coronavirus infections were in the Fraser Health region

Anyone with information on any of these individuals is asked to call 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or visit the website victoriacrimestoppers.ca for more information.
Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of Feb. 23

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

(Black Press Media File Photo)
POLL: Are you struggling with Greater Victoria’s cost of housing?

While Victoria remains one of the most expensive cities in the country… Continue reading

Nanaimo Ladysmith Public Schools is preparing a rapid response team proposal for submission to the B.C. Ministry of Education. (Chris Bush/News Bulletin)
Nanaimo-Ladysmith school district chosen as COVID-19 rapid response team

Team to consist of SD68 and Island Health staff, according to B.C. Ministry of Education

A new survey has found that virtual visits are British Columbian’s preferred way to see the doctor amid the COVID-19 pandemic. (Unsplash)
Majority of British Columbians now prefer routine virtual doctor’s visits: study

More than 82% feel virtual health options reduce wait times, 64% think they lead to better health

Captain and Maria, a pair of big and affectionate akbash dogs, must be adopted together because they are so closely bonded. (SPCA image)
Shuswap SPCA seeks forever home for inseparable Akbash dogs

A fundraiser to help medical expenses for Captain and Maria earned over 10 times its goal

The missing camper heard a GSAR helicopter, and ran from his tree well waving his arms. File photo
Man trapped on Manning mountain did nearly everything right to survive: SAR

The winter experienced camper was overwhelmed by snow conditions

Castlegar doctor Megan Taylor contracted COVID-19 in November. This photo was taken before the pandemic. Photo: Submitted
Kootenay doctor shares experience contracting COVID-19

Castlegar doctor shares her COVID experience

Ashley Paxman, 29, is in the ICU after being struck by a vehicle along Highway 97 Feb. 18, 2021. She remains in critical condition. (GoFundMe)
Okanagan woman in ICU with broken bones in face after being struck by car

She remains in serious condition following Feb. 18 incident

Most Read