The Vancouver Park Board has endorsed eleven strategies in response to the some of the 94 calls to action that the Truth and Reconciliation Commission issued in its report published last year.
Park Board Chair Sarah Kirby-Yung says staff identified actions that fall within the jurisdiction of the Park Board, including staff training on indigenous issues, developing a long-term stewardship strategy for Stanley Park in collaboration with First Nations, youth leadership programs, programming in arts, sports and culture that supports indigenous people, education on what reconciliation means, and community arts funding for projects that address reconciliation.
“This is, to my knowledge, the first municipal government body in Canada to implement recommendations in response to the calls to action.”
Kirby-Yung says these strategies are a formalization of some of the work that the Park Board has already been doing, including:
Education for Reconciliation
Last September the Aboriginal Life in Vancouver Enhancement Society partnered with Britannia Community Centre and Ray-Cam Community Association to host an event called “Drive the Change” to look at how reconciliation can begin at the community level.
A similar event is planned for the Hastings Community Centre, and will include the launch of a Reconciliation art project.
Language, Culture and Commemoration
- Continue working with First Nations on the future stewardship of Stanley Park and other parklands.
- Ongoing collaborations with First Nations artists that commemorate indigenous history at sites within parks, such as the new “Shore-to-Shore” sculpture that was unveiled at Brockton Point last year.
- Ensuring public art, monuments and memorials reflect Indigenous history, heritage values, and memory practices.
When asked if we might start seeing park signage in First Nations languages, Kirby-Yung says its absolutely possible but right now they are focusing on the the spirit of the recommendations, which is honouring the history of the First Nations people and the role they played.
“…They do have sovereignty and independence over their language, and that’s not a specific tactic we’ve played in terms of identifying signage. The conversation has been more around commemorative and historic signage that identifies the roles of First Nations peoples, (and) the symbolism of particular areas of land and so forth.”
Youth Programs, and Sports and Reconciliation
Offeringore sports activities that are accessible to aboriginal youth, such MoreSports, and youth leadership programs, such as the RISE Youth Leadership and Development Program, which has aboriginal youth working at various community centres across the city.