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Saanich to consult First Nations before establishing public reconciliation fund

Coun. Ned Taylor looks to get ball rolling on idea similar to City of Victoria program
Rather than asking staff to research options for a voluntary reconciliation fund similar to that of Victoria, Saanich council voted to defer discussions to the district’s next meeting with the WSANEC Leadership Council. (Black Press Media file photo)

Establishing a voluntary financial contribution fund aiding reconciliation with First Nations won’t happen unilaterally in Saanich.

At the June 13 council meeting, Coun. Ned Taylor introduced a motion that would have directed district staff to investigate options and the implications of instituting a fund similar to the one established by the City of Victoria earlier this year. Such an initiative would be one way Saanich could better support reconciliation in First Nations communities, Taylor said.

Rather than having a detailed discussion about what that would look like, council instead approved Coun. Zac de Vries’ referral motion, that the item be brought up at the next meeting between the WSANEC Leadership Council and Saanich council. The next council to council meeting is not expected until after the fall municipal election, staff said.

De Vries pointed out such a funding vehicle falls outside the realm of the district’s still-developing memorandum of understanding with the WSANEC Leadership Council, noting Saanich is also still trying to build relationships with other nations and urban Indigenous peoples.

“I think there’s a really good intent in the original motion that I think is an endeavour that we all share in terms of moving forward on reconciliation. The question is, is this the right move or not,” he said.

While Saanich has done some preliminary work to begin establishing relationships with other First Nations communities, including the Pauquachin, Songhees and Esquimalt nations, starting the process with the WSANEC Leadership Council is likely the best strategy, added Coun. Colin Plant.

RELATED STORY: Victoria approves voluntary reconciliation payment program for property owners

ALSO READ: B.C. commits $35M to continue revitalization of Indigenous languages, arts, culture


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