One year ago, Regional Council adopted Niagara’s Community Safety and Well-Being Plan, which included the recommendations put forward under the Mno Bmaadziwin (Living the Good and Healthy Life) Indigenous Engagement Report.
Recently, Regional Council endorsed a public statement from CAO Ron Tripp reaffirming Niagara Region’s commitment to addressing systemic discrimination and anti-Indigenous racism within its institution.
Municipal governments, as well as other levels of government in Canada, share responsibility and have an important role to play in eradicating anti-Indigenous racism and discrimination, and fostering equity and respect for all.
Niagara Region acknowledges that colonialism and past actions and inactions across all levels of government have created discriminatory policies and practices against Indigenous Peoples. This has had direct, widespread and devastating effects on the health and well-being of First Nations, Métis and Inuit communities. Acknowledging this reality is essential to changing it.
Niagara Region hereby issues a commitment to address systemic discrimination and anti-Indigenous racism within its institution.
Niagara Region recognizes that this statement will not stand alone. As an organization, we have work to do to continue to confront systemic anti-Indigenous racism and discrimination. We are committed to taking specific, measurable, and continued action. As a start, a Joint Roundtable has been established with the Niagara Indigenous Community Executives (N.I.C.E.) and leadership from Niagara Region, including the Niagara Regional Police Service. The Joint Roundtable will be working alongside First Nations, Métis and Inuit communities to co-develop an Indigenous Action Plan. The plan will work towards reconciliation between Niagara Region and First Nations, Métis and Inuit communities, which will include the following actions:
Over thousands of years, Niagara region has served as an important gateway, trade route and meeting place for many generations of Indigenous people and their nations. These lands are steeped in the rich history of the First Nations such as the Hatiwendaronk (also known as the Attawanderon or Neutral), the Haudenosaunee, and the Anishinaabe, including the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation.
Niagara Region looks to the historical foundational values of peace, mutual respect and friendship, as demonstrated by the Two Row Wampum, to guide our path forward to ensure safety, equity and access to opportunity for all Indigenous Peoples in Niagara.
By putting these values into practice, Niagara Region and Indigenous communities can build trust, address challenging issues and new opportunities, and act collaboratively to achieve social and economic well-being for Indigenous Peoples living in Niagara.
This work aligns with the recommendations from local Indigenous engagement reports (Creating Our Way Forward and Mno Bmaadziwin), the commitments identified under Niagara Region’s Community Safety and Well-Being Plan, and the spirit of the Declaration of Mutual Commitment and Respect signed by Niagara Region Council and the Fort Erie Native Friendship Centre.
"Moving towards reconciliation and having open and honest conversations with the Indigenous Peoples in Niagara is of the utmost importance. On behalf of Regional Council, I can assure the residents of Niagara that Council is committed to taking specific, measurable, and continued action to addressing anti-Indigenous racism. Thank you to all our Indigenous partners who continue to help us gain a better understanding of the challenges that the Indigenous Peoples in Niagara encounter on a daily basis."
~ Jim Bradley, Regional Chair
"We at the Fort Erie Native Friendship Centre support the work that the Niagara Regional Council and the Niagara Region is engaged in to ending the systemic Anti-Indigenous Racism and Discrimination with us. While it will take some time to enact all of the recommendations in Mno Bmaadziwin, the Truth and Reconciliation Calls to Action, the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Girls and 2 Spirit...call to Justice and create a Niagara specific Indigenous Action Plan we are proud to engage in this critical work on behalf of the Urban Indigenous community in Niagara. This work we do with our Indigenous organization partners and the Region of Niagara is the good work of creating true equity. This is work we all can be proud of and creates a lasting legacy that honors and revives all of our inherent responsibilities to each other, the land, and all our relations in Niagara."
~ Jennifer Dockstader, Executive Director, Fort Erie Native Friendship Centre