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Commitment of responsibility, advocacy and reconciliation with the Indigenous Peoples of Turtle Island June 2, 2021

To the community of businesses we represent, City of Stratford, Mayor Dan Mathieson and Stratford City Council, Randy Pettapiece MPP, John Nater MP, Prime Minister JustinTrudeau, Carolyn Bennett, Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations, and Marc Miller, Minister of Indigenous Services Canada,

We acknowledge and honour the ancestral guardians of this land and its waterways: the Anishinaabe, the Haudenosaunee Confederacy, the Wendat, and the Neutrals.
We acknowledge that we are on territory governed by two treaties, The Dish with One Spoon Wampum Belt Covenant of 1701 and The Huron Tract Treaty of 1827. 

We stand in solidarity with the Indigenous Peoples of Turtle Island, that we call Canada.

To residential school survivors in need of support who might be reading this letter, please contact the National Indian Residential School Support 24 hr Crisis Line 1-866-925-4419

We acknowledge that as settlers we have and continue to benefit from colonialism and the systemic racism that daily harms the Indigenous Peoples of Turtle Island. 

This past week we have seen, heard, and bear witness with you to the news, that is not news, of the remains of 215 Indigenous children killed and buried in a mass grave on the grounds of a former residential school in Kamloops, British Columbia by a specialist in ground-penetrating radar hired by the Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc First Nation.

We as Stratford City Centre Business Improvement Area Board (SCC BIA), staff and Advocacy and Education Subcommittee align our commitment with the ON Canada Project Settlers Take Action to seek out ways whereby, we will “take responsibility to do the work to learn more about, advocate for, and reconcile with the Indigenous Peoples of Turtle Island, now known as Canada.”

We commit to and acknowledge the following:
• We were not taught nor have yet learned the full truth of the history of this country.
• We are responsible for reconciliation and will use our voice and privilege as settlers of this country we call Canada to do better.
• We will listen to, seek out, and follow the wisdom and guidance of the Indigenous People of this region/territory.
• We will educate and inform ourselves as SCC BIA Board, staff and Advocacy and Education Subcommittee of the Calls to Action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) of 2015.
• We commit to share resources and provide learning opportunities for our downtown businesses as we collectively seek to understand our responsibility of reconciliation and reparation.
• We commit to understanding and discovering concrete ways to act upon the TRC Call to Action #92 with respect to Business and Reconciliation.

We write to ask you, beyond your words and the lowering of flags; What are you doing concretely to take action?

We call on the Prime Minister, the Federal Government, and the whole of Parliament to declare a distinct National Day of Mourning for the children and survivors of the residential school system.

We call on all levels of government and the Roman Catholic, Anglican, United, Methodist and Presbyterian churches to do more than speak acknowledgement but to be accountable to the findings and 94 Calls to Action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
We use our privilege and power to call on our leaders and politicians, yes even demand that government and members of parliament from all parties honour the promises and act immediately to uphold commitments made to the Indigenous Peoples of Turtle Island.

To our City Council we call you to the TRC Call to Action #92 i “Commit to meaningful consultation, building respectful relationships, and obtaining the free, prior, and informed consent of Indigenous peoples before proceeding with economic development projects.”

It has been 6 years since the TRC released the Calls to Action, the majority of which remain unanswered.  In this moment we call on all members of Parliament to address together Actions #71-76 Missing Children and Burial Information.

We demand that government take immediate action to support Indigenous Peoples in the way they seek support; that government and the Roman Catholic Church take accountability for the 215 children and the many more yet to be discovered. 

That you do not continue to perpetuate the abuse of the residential school systems by removing Indigenous children from their communities abandoning them to the foster care system, but rather allocate funds and resources needed under the guidance of Indigenous Peoples to assure supports are in place for families and communities.

As Indigenous Peoples do what is needed for their communities in the wake of the past, this week, and yet more unbearable days ahead, we hold our government responsible to assure access to all funds needed to grieve and honour the lives of each child without hesitation or words that delay action or allocation of such funds. That the government immediately make available and provide funding for every First Nation that makes request of you, a specialist in ground-penetrating radar to search the grounds of all residential schools across Canada.

As we do our work, we honour and celebrate the joy, strength, resilience, stories, and truths of the Indigenous Peoples of Turtle Island.

If you are reading this letter and wonder where you as a settler might donate funds to support survivors and further reconciliation work we suggest the following as a beginning:
Indian Residential Schools Survivors Society, British Columbia

Legacy of Hope, Ottawa

Orange Shirt Society, Williams Lake, British Columbia

Native Women’s Association of Canada, Ottawa

National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation Community Support Fund

With humility and respect,
The Board, Staff, and Advocacy and Education Subcommittee of Stratford City Centre Business Improvement Area,
Chair, Rob Russell, MacLeods Scottish Shop
Vice Chair, Pamela Coneybeare, La Osa Jewelry & Vintage
Treasurer, Shawn Malvern, WK Financial
Secretary, Anne Campion, revel coffee inc.
Heather Martin, Stratford Festival
James Hough, The Pulp
Rob Wigan, Revival House
Elsa Fahreus, illume Wellness Spa
City of Stratford Councillor, Danielle Ingram

A&E Subcommittee:
Trena Hough, The Pulp
Selena Jones, The Chica Project

General Manager, Rebecca Scott
Membership Liaison, Kim Griffiths
Administrator, Christina Phillips
Social Media Coordinator, Sara Bradford

94 Calls to Action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission

National Indian Residential School Support 24 hr Crisis Line 1-866-925-4419

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