A high-profile former politician who discovered her Indigenous heritage in mid-life has delivered a stinging denunciation of an NPA councillor's position on the city's reconciliation efforts.
Andrea Reimer, who sat on council from 2008 to 2018 with Vision Vancouver, tweeted that her heart hurts and her head is angry over NPA councillor Colleen Hardwick's vote against receiving a city report written by Katelyn Crabtree.
Crabtree is the manager of Indigenous relations and a specialist in Indigenous law.
She presented her report to council on June 26.
"In 9 years of purposeful work in reconciliation at city council we achieved 100% unanimous votes on every single item brought forward," Reimer tweeted. "There was a lot of tough work in that list, and all of it involved land and money because that is what colonialism is all about."
Hardwick also voted against city manager Sadhu Johnston's recommendation that council direct staff to include in its 2020 reconciliation report an analysis of the status of the City of Vancouver's reconciliation framework commitments—as well as recommendations for building on these commitments.
Hardwick later told the Vancouver Sun's Dan Fumano she felt that "city-related individuals...have distorted the truth, and aspects of First Nations culture are omitted or misrepresented or categorically incorrect".
She also questioned whether it's appropriate for the local level of government to be spending taxpayers' money on this or if that should be the responsibility of senior levels of government.
Hardwick did not deny that Indigenous people suffered wrongs in the past. She also professed support for reconciliation in her interview with Fumano.
Reimer claimed on Twitter that the only reason an elected official can vote against receiving a report for information is if they believe it doesn't "accurately reflect the material it covers".
"You are essentially accusing staff of professional misconduct," Reimer purported. "Which is why elected officials routinely vote for reports on subjects they may not agree with but respect the staff whose work it reflects."
During her final term on council, Reimer learned that her birth mother has Métis and Cree ancestry. Reimer was adopted at the age of six months and grew up in a home that didn't emphasize her Indigenous heritage.
Prior to this discovery, Reimer had already been a forceful advocate for reconciliation as a member of council.
You can read some of her tweets about Hardwick below:
Reimer ended her tweetstorm by "strongly" encouraging people to read the executive summary of the 2015 Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada report.
She also urged people to read the city staff report, "to get a better understanding of how governments at all levels have a call to action on reconciliation that supersedes politics".
The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada concluded that Canada's Indigenous peoples experienced cultural genocide.
That's because the Canadian state set out to destroy their political and social institutions, seized their land, forcibly transferred populations, restricted their movement, banned their language, persecuted their spiritual leaders, outlawed their spiritual practices, and confiscated and destroyed objects of spirital value.
At least 150,000 First Nations, Métis, and Inuit students were taken from their homes and put into church-run residential schools, where many were physically and sexually abused. Up to 6,000 of these students died.
The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada included 94 calls to action in its report.
There are five recommendations that specifically mention municipal governments, which are listed below.
43. We call upon federal, provincial, territorial, and municipal governments to fully adopt and implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples as the framework for reconciliation.
47. We call upon federal, provincial, territorial, and municipal governments to repudiate concepts used to justify European sovereignty over Indigenous peoples and lands, such as the Doctrine of Discovery and terra nullius, and to reform those laws, government policies, and litigation strategies that continue to rely on such concepts.
57. We call upon federal, provincial, territorial, and municipal governments to provide education to public servants on the history of Aboriginal peoples, including the history and legacy of residential schools, the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Treaties and Aboriginal rights, Indigenous law, and Aboriginal-Crown relations. This will require skills-based training in intercultural competency, conflict resolution, human rights, and anti-racism.
75. We call upon the federal government to work with provincial, territorial, and municipal governments, churches, Aboriginal communities, former residential school students, and current landowners to develop and implement strategies and procedures for the ongoing identification, documentation, maintenance, commemoration, and protection of residential school cemeteries or other sites at which residential school children were buried. This is to include the provision of appropriate memorial ceremonies and commemorative markers to honour the deceased children.
77. We call upon provincial, territorial, municipal, and community archives to work collaboratively with the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation to identify and collect copies of all records relevant to the history and legacy of the residential school system, and to provide these to the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation.