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Richmond Hill Council's Land Acknowledgement Statement has been delayed since 2019! Why?

At the November 10, 2021 (16.4) Council meeting Councillor Perrelli moved a motion that staff were directed to hold further consultations with local Indigenous Communities on the wording for the Land Acknowledgement and to report back to Council on a revised Land Acknowledgement at a future Council Meeting.

However instead of waiting for the requested report Councillor Perrelli is bringing forth a Member Motion at the June 22, 2022 Council meeting with a proposed Indigenous Land Acknowledgement. The motion proposes to adopt a Land Acknowledgement developed by the Indigenous Action Committee of Richmond Hill. View motion here

Who are the Indigenous Action Committee of Richmond Hill?

The Indigenous Action Committee was formed late 2021. The co-founders include Richmond Hill resident Jay Shea and Thornhill resident Matthew Bergman.


According to the Indigenous Action Committee's Facebook page, which was set up on October 27, 2021, they "are a committee of Indigenous York Region residents who have come together to give a voice to our community in Richmond Hill and beyond about local Indigenous affairs."

Councillors Perrelli and Muench joined Jay Shea and Matthew Bergman on September 30th, 2021 for a Richmond Hill's National Day of Truth and Reconciliation get together.


You may remember the name Matthew Bergman aka Matt Groopie from the Councillor Cilevitz harassment case in December 2018.

TIMELINE

February 11, 2019

Land Acknowledgement Statement Deferred

The Land Acknowledgement was initially brought forward at the February 11, 2019 Council meeting by Councillors West and Cilevitz but was deferred to the March 25, 2019 Council meeting.

In favour of deferral: DiPaola, Perrelli, Beros. Muench, Chan, Liu

Against deferral: Barrow, West, Cilevitz

March 25, 2019

Land Acknowledgement Statement became

an Indigenous education course

At the March 25, 2019 Council Meeting the Land Acknowledgement motion came forward again moved by Councillors West and Cilevitz. The council chamber was packed and there were 19 verbal delegations and 23 written correspondence in support of the Land Acknowledgement motion. Sadly instead of a Land Acknowledgement Council approved an amended motion by Councillor DiPaola to offer an Indigenous education course to city employees.

June 23, 2021

Staff to Consult Indigenous Communities

At the June 23, 2021 Council meeting Councillor West moved a motion directing staff to research and consult with Indigenous Communities to develop a Richmond Hill Land Acknowledgement Statement. Read the staff report here

Motion Passed

In favour: West, Chan, DiPaola, Cilevitz, Chan, Liu

Opposed: Perrelli, Beros

Click the video and listen to some of the comments made by Councillors Perrelli and Muench about Land Acknowledgements, the residents of Richmond Hill and a bloodied man.


Councillor Carmine Perrelli claims that Land Acknowledgement is "clearly not of interest to the majority of Richmond Hill residents" because no one spoke up. Councillor Tom Muench says that a Land Acknowledgement is "mean- spirited" and shows picture of bloodied man he claims was "pummeled" in Richmond Hill for bringing up "aboriginal acknowledgement".


October 27, 2021

Land Acknowledgement Statement passed!

On to the October 27, 2021 Council meeting where staff brought forth the requested report from June 23rd which included a proposed Land Acknowledgement Statement. As part of the consultation staff spoke with various First Nations groups and members of the Indigenous Community who have an interest in Richmond Hill. View report here.

  • Staff invited eleven (11) First Nations to provide input and engaged with a total of four (4) First Nations: Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation (sole signatory of Treaty 13), Curve Lake First Nation, Six Nations of the Grand River First Nation (signatories of the Williams Treaties), and the Huron-Wendat First Nation. The remaining groups did not respond with any feedback to our correspondence.

  • There were two sessions which occurred on August 24, and September 14, respectively. During these sessions, staff invited First Nations who attended to provide feedback on research which had been conducted in order to: address any (in)accuracies in the findings, highlight critical areas that should be included in the statement, and discuss any other important information that First Nations wanted staff to consider prior to the drafting of the statement. No additional feedback beyond the discussions at these meetings was received in response to the correspondence.

  • Feedback provided during the meetings was overwhelmingly positive. Staff received clarity on the distinction between treaty lands and traditional territories, examples of land acknowledgements adopted by other municipalities within the jurisdiction of treaty holders, and what to consider as the City drafted its statement. Nations emphasized the importance of continued fruitful engagement and involvement as required. All First Nations groups consulted supported the City’s direction to develop and implement a land acknowledgement.

Matthew Bergman delegated saying "I'm here representing a new group called the Richmond Hill Indigenous Action Committee. We are a group of five indigenous residents that got together recently after discussing the lack of events and funding toward the Indigenous Community in Richmond Hill. Our aim is creating meaningful change for our community with the support of the City of Richmond Hill".


Perrelli moved a motion to refer back to staff for consultation with the Richmond Hill Indigenous Action Committee.

Perrelli said "I think it's important that we refer this back to staff to have a thorough consultation with the members of Mr. Bergman's community. Let's not exclude the only

native residents of Richmond Hill that took the time to create a committee and come forward and speak here today."


City Manager Dempster stated "comments were made that consultation was not thorough and we believe that it was thorough. We were not aware of this group (Richmond Hill Indigenous Action Committee) to include them."


The referral motion failed

In favour of referral: Perrelli, Beros, Muench

Opposing referral: DiPaola, Liu, West, Cilevitz, Chan


The main motion to adopt the Land Acknowledgement Statement passed unanimously.

Councillors Perrelli and Beros did not vote as they left the meeting

November 10, 2021

Bylaw not approved - Staff to Consult Indigenous Communities

At the November 10, 2021 Council Meeting Councillor West moved a motion to approve the Land Acknowledgement Statement By-law.


Jay Shea of the Indigenous Action Committee, addressed Council and expressed his concerns with the proposed wording of the Land Acknowledgement approved at the October 27th meeting.


Councillor Perrelli then moved a referral motion that staff be directed to hold further consultations with local Indigenous Communities on the wording for the Land Acknowledgement and to report back to Council on a revised Land Acknowledgement at a future Council Meeting.

Motion to Refer Carried Unanimously (8 to 0)

March 9, 2022

Richmond Hill Indigenous Action Committee receives rent free use of a city facility for an Indigenous Welcome Centre

Although the Richmond Hill Indigenous Action Committee had barely organized Councillor Perrelli brough forth another Member Motion at the March 9, 2022 Council meeting directing staff to facilitate a rent free user rental agreement between the City and Indigenous Action Committee (IAC) for a 1 year pilot project at an appropriate city facility to establish an Indigenous Welcome Centre. View motion here


Mayor West brought forth a referral motion requesting that staff work with all local Indigenous groups including the IAC to determine vision and goals for the centre.

Referral motion failed on a tied vote

For West, DiPaola, Cilevitz and Chan

Against Perrelli, Beros, Muench and Liu


Motion passed unanimously after Mayor West's referral motion failed.


June 22, 2022

Seeking approval of Land Acknowledgement Statement

written by the Indigenous Action Committee

After much discussion this item was deferred to the July 6th Council Meeting

Most of the discussion around questioning the hiring by staff of an Indigenous Expert Consultant and not about the proposed Land Acknowledgement Statement


There seemed to be a reluctance to have the Indigenous Action Committee's proposed statement included with the Indigenous Communities consultation being undertaken by staff and the Indigenous Consultant.

In Favour of deferral: Perrelli, Chan, Liu, Beros, Muench

Not in Favour of deferral: West, DiPaola, Cilevitz, Sheppard


July 6, 2022

Councillor Perrelli moved a motion to cancel the contract with the Indigenous Consultant Shared Path Initiatives and direct the contract funds of $18,000 to the Indigenous Action Committee (IAC)

Motion Failed (Liu Absent)

  • Part (b) Cancel Consultant contract - Failed

    • Yes: Perrelli, Beros, Muench

    • No: West, DiPaola, Chan, Cilevitz, Sheppard

  • Part (c) Became moot because contract wasn't cancelled per (b)

  • Part (a) Accept Land Acknowledgement written by IAC - Failed on a Tied vote

    • Yes: Perrelli, Beros, Muench, Chan

    • No: West, DiPaola, Cilevitz, Sheppard

At this point City Staff will continue the ongoing consultation with Indigenous Communities that was unanimously agreed to by Council at it's meeting on November 10, 2021.

TO BE CONTINUED

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