The City of Martensville has been working on an Indigenous Engagement Strategy for the community and although it is in the early stages, Martensville City Clerk Carla Budnick said that the City of Martensville is looking forward to the future of this newest venture. Currently, Mayor Muench, Deputy Mayor Chillog, Councillor Cox and Budnick are members of a Truth and Reconciliation Committee that consists of multiple surrounding communities who meet monthly. “Many of us are unsure of how to incorporate this into our work environments as well as our everyday lives, so we have speakers that come in to educate us and get everyone engaged and on the same track,” Budnick explained.
This past fall, representatives from the City of Martensville met with Derek Rope from M-R Strategies, who is helping provide input and education towards building partnerships between Martensville and indigenous communities. Rope will help to bridge the gap and will offer support on how the City of Martensville can create contacts, what information should be provided to these communities, opportunities that are available in Martensville that can be shared and more. “There are numerous opportunities that we have within our own office even, whether it is through economic development, accounting, infrastructure or other city departments. There is information that we can share that may benefit other communities,” Budnick said.
The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada created a Calls to Action list which they believe will redress the legacy of residential schools and advance the process of Canadian reconciliation. There are 94 items listed, with some specifically calling on municipal governments to do their part. In a letter to the City of Martensville, Rope noted that, “Truth and Reconciliation is not simply about creating awareness. It is a call to action for continued commitment of people, communities, organizations and governments to acknowledge our collective past by understanding truth, the need to heal and our shared road to reconciliation.”
Currently, there are no partnerships created; however, the City is working on building conversations about the various opportunities that Martensville has available and learning how to showcase them. The following step would be to create meetings with the indigenous groups in order to let them know that Martensville is open to working with them. An example of how Martensville can contribute to engagement within indigenous communities would be a possible partnership with the athletes training for the North American Indigenous Games, which will be taking place in Canada in 2020. “We could discuss the options of using our facilities for training purposes. It is all about making surrounding communities aware of what our community has to offer and ways that we can work together,” said Budnick.
This fall, Martensville will be hosting the second Truth and Reconciliation education day conference put on by the Regional Reconciliation Committee, the first one was held in Warman on November 7, 2018. The event will be open to the public. “I think that many of us are unfamiliar with the history of Canadian indigenous people and what took place with the treaties and residential schools. This event provides information to those embarking on a Truth and Reconciliation journey, allowing people to hear stories and have questions answered.”
Although Saskatoon has been creating partnerships with indigenous groups for years, not all municipalities have created a way to bridge the gap. Budnick explained that for Martensville, their goal is to continue learning and educating themselves as well as the community so they can get to the point where the partnerships are built and then that connection can begin to incorporate into their every day practices. “We want to make Martensville an inviting community for everyone.”
Through the education that she has already gotten throughout this journey, Budnick has learned much about the living conditions, past experiences and acknowledges that although we all live within the same province, our lives are completely different. “It is history that we need to know. It happened, and there is a lot of stereotyping that takes place within our province. They say that it will take seven generations to get things turned around because a lot of it is learned behavior. It is up to every one of us to help change this behavior,” Budnick commented.
More information about the Indigenous Engagement Strategy will be available once set plans are in place.