BEPPLE – Reconciliation between Settlers and Indigenous requires action


RECONCILIATION BETWEEN Settlers and Indigenous people in Canada is an ongoing process. Reconciliation is not one event, but a continual flow of actions.

This last week, Kamloops City council and the City of Kamloops went further down the road of reconciliation with our neighbour community, Tk’emlups te Secwepemc First Nation (TteS).

On Wednesday, Feb. 1, Kamloops mayor and council met with Tk’emlups te Secwepemc Kúkpi7 Rosanne Casimir and council. The meeting took place at Stuart Wood School.

First, the two councils toured the school facilities. The 122-year-old building is amazing. From the third-floor classroom down to the basement furnace room, the beauty of the old building is everywhere: wainscotting, high ceilings, and great views out of the large windows.

But it has challenges, including asbestos, lead pipes, and poor access for those with mobility challenges.

Going forward, the two councils must work together to envision what the building’s next purpose is. Not just the building, but the entire property. The meeting on Wednesday laid the foundation by focusing on building relationships between the two governments.

Then, on Friday, Feb. 3, members of City of Kamloops (CoK) council participated in the Kairos Blanket Exercise. Through the exercise, members of Bonaparte First Nation as well as TteS councillor Tkwenem7íple7 Dave Manuel gave the CoK council members the opportunity to learn more about our nation-to-nation relationship.

Blankets represented the land of Canada, as well as key moments in history. Everyone who participated shared their experiences, understandings, and impacts of policies such as the Indian Residential Schools, the Sixties Scoop, treaties and land claims. The City of Kamloops council knows that learning our shared history is an important step in reconciliation.

On Tuesday, Feb. 7, the Community Relations and Reconciliation committee met. This committee, with membership of Councillors Katie Neustaeter, Bill Sarai and myself is the starting point for City council to discuss projects around reconciliation and next steps forward.

In this latest committee meeting, some of the topics discussed included the upcoming Community to Community Forum in April. There are also plans for the National Indigenous Peoples Day on June 21. As well, City of Kamloops is supporting TteS’ bid for the 2027 North American Indigenous Games.

There was also discussion about the use of Secwepemc names within the City of Kamloops. It has already happened with the naming of Xget’tem’ Trail from Sixth Avenue to Summit.

Going forward, there will be other opportunities to rename locations around the city to their original Secwepemc names. It follows the path already taken elsewhere in B.C. such as the renaming of Haida Gwaii and the Salish Sea.

Reconciliation is an ongoing process. It starts with genuine relationships. Time spent between City of Kamloops and Tk’emlups te Secwepemc councils is a good step forward.

It also helps having concrete actions, whether finding a new purpose for Stuart Wood School, supporting sporting events, or changing the way we see ourselves through the names we use.

We are on the path to reconciliation. We’re making progress. The awarding of the provincial 2022 British Columbia Reconciliation Award to Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc and the City of Kamloops is testament that we’re heading down the right road.

Nancy Bepple is a Kamloops City councillor with a strong interest in community building projects.

About Mel Rothenburger (9489 Articles) is a forum about Kamloops and the world. It has more than one million views. Mel Rothenburger is the former Editor of The Daily News in Kamloops, B.C. (retiring in 2012), and past mayor of Kamloops (1999-2005). At he is the publisher, editor, news editor, city editor, reporter, webmaster, and just about anything else you can think of. He is grateful for the contributions of several local columnists. This blog doesn't require a subscription but gratefully accepts donations to help defray costs.

1 Comment on BEPPLE – Reconciliation between Settlers and Indigenous requires action

  1. Dawne Taylor // February 8, 2023 at 2:39 PM // Reply

    The Kairos blanket exercise is an important tool for learning the history of Canada. I think it should be offered in every high school as well as TRU, all churches, all service clubs and perhaps by the City for the general public. The more people who are aware of our history in this country, the more effective will be all reconciliation efforts.

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