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No intention to call out city councillor, Calgary committee says

The committee behind a footnote that suggested a Calgary city councillor hadn’t fulfilled scheduled commitments to meet, said they didn’t intend to call anyone out.

The Calgary Aboriginal Urban Affairs Committee (CAUAC), who delivered their annual report at Wednesday’s regular meeting of council, said their role is one of being a resource to council on Reconciliation matters.

LWC and other local media reported on Tuesday that a CAUAC report, under the heading of “Councillor behaviour,” had footnoted that Ward 13 Coun. Dan McLean hadn’t fulfilled planned sessions with them.

It all stemmed from the circulation of a video last year that included McLean and the mocking of Indigenous Peoples.  McLean had agreed to work with Elders on a path to Reconciliation.

Krista Ouelette, the vice-chair of CAUAC, addressed the stories immediately in the delivery of their presentation at council Wednesday. She said that their committee is there to move forward in a good way, not for calling people out.

“We’re not here to comment. We’re not here to reach judgment on individual reconciliation journeys,” Ouelette said.

“We are here to move our city’s collective journey towards reconciliation as united. The story is not them against us. The story is we’re in it together.”

The group did not answer questions after the presentation. No member of council asked, after the committee explanation, why they included the footnote in their report.

Coun. McLean did reiterate his ongoing willingness to work with the Indigenous community and the work that he’s done to date to connect.

“I’d like to say how much I appreciate your time and effort in participating in the Healing Circle with the First Nations Elders and myself,” he said.

“Definitely an emotional, spiritual and life-changing event.”

Don’t want to distract from the group’s work

CAUAC outlined its goals for the upcoming year, including the establishment of a 10-year strategic plan.

Committee chair, Lysandra Nothing, said that would include a review of the progress they’ve made since 2014.

“We really want to have a huge focus on CAUAC’s work and ensuring that we have a clear understanding of responsibilities between the Indigenous Relations Office and our committee at CAUAC,” she said.

Nothing also said they are a committed group of 14 members, with more than half having lived experiences as Indigenous Peoples.  They come from backgrounds of stakeholder engagement, economic development, community services, education – and a historian – and they want to be a city council resource.

“So, we ask that you please lean on us, especially with regard to Indigenous matters within the city,” she said.

Outside council, Calgary Mayor Jyoti Gondek said that besides facilitating cooperation between Coun. McLean and Indigenous Elders, she hasn’t been a part of the follow-up.

“We are being led by the Elder Circle on this journey that we’ve never embarked on before. I would love to tell everyone exactly what the process looks like. But I have to respect Indigenous ways of knowing, and I have to respect Indigenous ways of justice,” she said.  

“So, when Chiefs and Elders tell me that their goal is ultimately to ensure that the person takes accountability and responsibility, and we can move forward in a good way, then I rely on them for advice on how we get there.”

The mayor encouraged citizens to not let this situation distract from the important committee work.

“I fear that the amount of work they do is being overshadowed by one thing,” she said.

“I would remind us all that this committee is integral to our mission towards Truth and Reconciliation. There were many other things in that report that were all equally important.”