Calgary city councillor Dan McLean will step away from board and committee duties after a video surfaced on social media last week.
McLean posted is own video on Friday explaining his deep admiration and respect for Canada’s Indigenous Peoples. It came after a video mocking Indigenous Peoples was circulated via an anonymous social media account. McLean, councillor for Ward 13, was shown in a portion of that video.
Calgary Mayor Jyoti Gondek said she spent some time last week speaking with First Nations and Métis leaders and Elders.
“These conversations were sparked by the surfacing of a video last week that was racist and included a member of our city council,” the mayor said during the early portion of Tuesday’s combined meeting of council.
The mayor said she talked with Elders Reg and Rose Crowshoe who explained how a similar situation might be handled within the Indigenous community.
She was told there would be a gathering of council and the community, a description of what happened and then a statement from the person in question. The community would then decide on next steps.
“It was enlightening for me to understand Indigenous ways of knowing and Indigenous ways of justice,” the mayor said.
“I was also advised that it is not the mayor’s place to speak for the Indigenous community. But it is my responsibility to call out racism and it is the responsibility of our council as well.”
They prescribed two actions. First, Coun. McLean will sit with a circle of Elders to hear their truths and experiences. He will report back to council with a path forward on restitution.
McLean will also step away from council boards and committees to demonstrate that he must make “amends.”
‘I do want to take responsibility’
McLean told his fellow councillors that he was willing to make amends.
“I do want to take responsibility and demonstrate that I am willing to learn, to grow, change and be better,” he said.
“I want to thank my council mates and the Indigenous community for allowing me this great opportunity and once I sit with elders, I will have a more informed way of demonstrating my commitment to truth reconciliation and anti-racism.”
During the noon break, Ward 11 Coun. Kourtney Penner, who was one of the first to publicly comment on McLean’s appearance in the video, said she was happy to see McLean’s leadership in this situation.
“I’m really thankful to councillor McLean for listening to both the sentiment of the public into the reaction and the many, many conversations that he had with the mayor and that the mayor had with elders from First Nations over the weekend,” she said.
Penner said it was a benefit to all of council to be thinking about the work of Reconciliation.
“I think through councillor McLean, we can all learn a lot about stepping up about doing the right thing, and about us all needing to sit and listen more and confront some of those biases that many of us carry with us.”
City councillors spent a fair amount of time in closed session discussing how McLean additional duties would be doled out.