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Elbow SK working towards Reconciliation

Education, Business, UNDRIP and commitments to Reconciliation, Professional Development
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The Village of Elbow, Saskatchewan is working towards Reconciliation.

In the spring of 2017 Mayor Rob Hundeby signed a memorandum of understanding with the Federation of Sovereign Nations.

A year earlier, at the February 2017 SUMA conference, Hundeby heard FSIN Chief Bobby Cameron speak about Reconciliation at an event.

“[Chief Cameron was] acknowledging that they’re willing to forgive and wanting to move forward and establish new relationships,’” Hundeby said, and Rob wanted to be part of it.

“I thought you know what, ‘I am guilty of having a raciest attitude of having pre-conceived thoughts’ and so I went up to him at that point and apologized.”

That put the wheels in motion. Hundeby said he learned that at that time not many other elected officials had acknowledged the past and wanted to move forward. He agreed to sign the MOU, which acknowledges colonialism, racism, residential schools, and he thinks other communities, towns and cities should do the same.

“Basically, it says we want to end racism,” he said.

Signing the MOU put the mayor and his community on a journey.

“It’s not the easiest thing, but it’s been a good thing.”

One of the high points was an open community hall session, where residents came and discussed First Nations that were interesting in working and investing in Elbow.

“At that point I think a lot of people did not understand that the commerce or the commercial aspect. [Indigenous communities] have a lot to offer. A lot of the prejudices of the past, that’s where is should stay,” Hundeby said.

Since then, the town has done a Treaty acknowledgement, hosted cultural days, and worked in the schools on the topic of Reconciliation.

“For a town of 300 people, who doesn’t have a ton of resources, we are definitely trying to open up and break down some barriers,” he said.

It’s been a lot of small actions.

“The fact that people are actually able to talk about it, that’s the first step.”

If things remain hidden, “nothing is ever going to happen or change,” Hundeby said.

“If you get out and start trying to make a difference, then people start buying into that.”

He wants to encourage other mayors to take the first step. Hundeby said elected leaders from other communities have approached him to ask questions and seek advice. For him, it’s about looking to the future.

“Responsibility of our generation to start to make the changes in our lives so kids aren’t learning it [racism], by our words or our actions on what we are doing,” he said.

“We’re elected to lead, so we can’t wait for the next generation to start making the changes. If we want to be true leaders we should install true action now.”

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