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Group renews calls for new ‘Indigenous specific’ council seat at City of Hamilton

June 10, 2024

Modified date: June 11, 2024, 8:07 am 

NationTalk: An Indigenous consulting group is renewing its calls for the creation of an Indigenous specific position among the city’s elected officials.

Last year, Circle of Beads, a group of local Indigenous leaders and advocates, initiated a campaign urging the City of Hamilton to create a new position among its elected officials that would better represent Indigenous peoples throughout the city.

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“This request aligns perfectly with the Calls to Action from the Truth and Reconciliation Report,” a spokesperson said in an emailed statement.

Indigenous leaders held a news conference at Hamilton City Hall on Monday. They say Hamilton has the opportunity to offer new hope to future generations of Indigenous people.

Audrey Davis from Circle of Beads said, “This will set another mark in history in Hamilton as being a leader in Indigenous relations across Canada.”

Circle of Beads came together after the violent arrest of Patrick Tomchuk, an Indigenous man by Hamilton police Const. Brian Wren in 2022.

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Lyndon George from Circle of Beads said, “It’s important to have an Indigenous voice and perspective on all matters that are brought here. Particularly those matters that have to do with the land, the air and water and an Indigenous voice is a voice of responsibility.”

With things like art displays in the city reflecting Indigenous culture, they say Hamilton has been progressive and responsive in its relations with Indigenous people and the new seat would offer a valuable point of view.

“It would make a massive difference because an Indigenous person experiences life differently within the city here and we need an Indigenous voice at council whenever decisions are being made,” George said.

They say it would take some changes to the province’s municipal act, calling that “colonial rules” and the details would have to be worked out.

They have the support of Ward 2 councillor Cameron Kroetsch. “Land acknowledgments and other kinds of things are great but what we need are people here at the table making decisions with us and offering their perspective. Make sure Indigenous customs, perspectives, traditions are part of the council.”

The proposal by Circle of Beads will be presenting their idea to city councillors next week.

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“For Indigenous people to actually have a recognized voice at the city level would make life a little easier for us and the Indigenous community of Hamilton because it shows acceptance, and that we are equal,” Davis said.

They say it would make Hamilton a more inclusive and safer city.