Smithers Interior News Editorial

Smithers Interior News Editorial

Reconciliation on the ballot

Housing, poverty, crime, healthcare, the opioid crisis, education etc., are reconciliation issues

It has been suggested time and again that reconciliation is the incorrect word for what Canada is trying to achieve with its First Peoples.

Reconciliation suggests there was a good relationship to begin with and history certainly does not bear that out.

Nevertheless, it is the term we are seemingly stuck with.

The newly minted (last year) National Day for Truth and Reconciliation (Sept. 30) is tomorrow and becomes particularly pertinent in the midst of an election campaign, even, or perhaps especially, a municipal one.

While the overarching responsibility for making things right with our First Nations brethren may lie with higher levels of government, reconciliation starts at home.

When asked what the most important election issues are, most British Columbians come up with things such as housing, cost of living, crime, healthcare, the opioid crisis, education etc.

Very few people come up with reconciliation.

And yet, all of these other issues are reconciliation issues.

In Canada, in British Columbia and in the Bulkley Valley, Indigenous persons are much more likely to suffer from housing insecurity, poverty, injustice, access to healthcare, addictions and poorer educational outcomes.

Previous Smithers councils have been cognizant of this and have made some steps toward addressing the relationship between the town and its First Nations residents, but much more needs to be done.

For the first time in a very long time, there could be a wholescale turnover on council.

With a challenger to incumbent mayor Gladys Atrill and only two incumbent councillors running for reelection among nine candidates for six councillor positions, the face of council will be quite different come Oct. 15 even if all three incumbents are returned to office.

We can only hope reconciliation is the priority it needs to be regardless of who is sitting in those chairs after the votes are counted.

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