Commitments to Indigenous Peoples
Calls to Action
In 2010, the City adopted the Statement of Commitment to the Aboriginal Communities of Toronto. In 2015, City Council in consultation with the Aboriginal Affairs Committee, identified eight Calls to Action from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada’s Report as priorities for implementation. Some Calls to Action are mirrored in the Statement of Commitment.
Hopes for Reconciliation
You can submit your hopes for reconciliation to the Ontario Government through their online form.
The City’s Eight Priority Calls to Actions are:
Call #23 – We call upon all levels of government to:
- Increase the number of Aboriginal professionals working in the health care field
- Ensure the retention of Aboriginal health-care providers in Aboriginal communities
- Provide cultural competency training for all health-care professionals.
- Since 1989, the City has provided $4,500 annual Scholarships, to two Aboriginal Students Studying in Health Professions, undergraduate or graduate. Recipients are expected to serve their communities, creating greater retention of health care providers.
- Toronto Public Health’s Strategic Plan (2015-2019) identifies the development and implementation of Toronto’s first comprehensive Indigenous Health Strategy as a priority action.
- In 2015, TPH launched a multi-year Indigenous Cultural Competency Training program to provide staff and Board members with the knowledge and skills necessary to build/maintain trusting relationships, relevant programs and respectful services with and for Indigenous communities in Toronto.
- Aboriginal Students Studying in Health Professions scholarships are ongoing.
- The Toronto Indigenous Health Advisory Circle (including TPH) launched a holistic and comprehensive Indigenous Health Strategy in March 2016 that will guide the work of both TPH and the Toronto Central LHIN in improving health outcomes in Toronto.
- TPH trained Board members and 240 employees. The Division plans to train approximately 400 employees each year until 1200 (more than half of) TPH employees have completed the course.
Call #43 – We call upon federal, provincial, territorial, and municipal governments to fully adopt and implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples as the framework for reconciliation.
- The City adopted the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) as part of the City’s year-long proclamation on Truth and Reconciliation 2013 – 2014.
- The City in its 2003 Vision Statement on Access and Equity acknowledged the unique status and cultural diversity of the Aboriginal communities and their right to self-determination. This aligns with Article 3 of the UNDRIP which calls for Indigenous peoples’ right to self-determination.
- Article 11 of the UNDRIP states that Indigenous peoples have the right to practise and revitalize their cultural traditions and customs including the right to maintain, protect and develop the past, present and future manifestations of their cultures. The City acknowledges this right through the work of Heritage Preservation and other divisions that do environmental assessments that require consultations with Aboriginal peoples of the area as part of City staff’s legal duty to consult.
- The Aboriginal Affairs Advisory Committee (AAAC) support UNDRIP Article 18 which enshrines the right of Indigenous peoples to participate in decision-making in matters which would affect their rights through representatives chosen by themselves in accordance with their own procedures, as well as the right to maintain and develop their own indigenous decision-making-institutions. Further, the workings of the AAAC supports UNDRIP Article 23 which states that Indigenous peoples have the right to determine and develop priorities and strategies for exercising their right to development.
- In 2010, The City adopted the Statement of Commitment to the Aboriginal Communities of Toronto. Statement #1 commits the City to creating appropriate education for the Toronto Public Service on Aboriginal History and its current-day impacts which complements UNDRIP Article 15 on the need to appropriately recognize Aboriginal History in education and public information. Other Statements of Commitment include capacity building (#3), representation and decision making (#4), employment (#5), working with exploring promising practices and opportunities for collaboration on Aboriginal initiatives (#6), and working jointly with Aboriginal communities to evaluate the success of its Commitments (#7).
In total, the Statement of Commitment supports the UNDRIP on many important issues facing Aboriginal communities in Toronto and entrusts the AAAC to oversee the implementation.
- The City of Toronto will continue to ensure it supports the rights of Aboriginal Peoples as set out in UNDRIP and in its Statement of Commitment.
The Aboriginal Employment Strategy Implementation Team is currently working on targeted outreach to ensure that opportunities for employment are accessible to Aboriginal people and that this increases the number of Aboriginal employees’ at all occupational levels. (Statement of Commitment #5).
3. Professional Development and Training for Public Servants
Call #57 – We call upon federal, provincial, territorial, and municipal governments to provide education to public servants on the history of Aboriginal peoples, including the history and legacy of residential schools, the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Treaties and Aboriginal rights, Indigenous law, and Aboriginal–Crown relations. This will require skills based training in intercultural competency, conflict resolution, human rights, and anti-racism.
- The City has acknowledged the impact of the Residential School System and part of the reconciliation process requires that everyone collectively learns about the Aboriginal history of Toronto. In July 2012, City Council adopted an Aboriginal Education Strategy, which combines formal and informal learning approaches, and a recommendation for a needs assessment to determine who in the Toronto Public Service should be educated on Aboriginal history, and what information staff need to know about Aboriginal peoples in Toronto.
- In addition to the Needs Assessment, the training program will also consider the Aboriginal community demographics and the issues identified in the Toronto Aboriginal Research Project (TARP), specifically housing, homelessness, poverty, health and child and family well-being.
- The needs assessment for Toronto Public Service training under the Aboriginal Education Strategy is completed. City is in the process of developing the logistics of delivering Cultural Competency training.
- The AAAC is regularly updated on the progress of the Education Strategy.
4. Museums and Archives
Call #68 – We call upon the federal government, in collaboration with Aboriginal peoples, and the Canadian Museums Association to mark the 150th anniversary of Canadian Confederation in 2017 by establishing a dedicated national funding program for commemoration projects on the theme of reconciliation.
This initiative is not specifically related to municipalities, however, Economic Development and Culture (EDC) is planning events to mark the 150th anniversary of Canada and are considering how best to incorporate an Aboriginal project related to the theme of reconciliation.
EDC has presented to the AAAC on their planning process for Canada 150 events and will be seeking input from the committee.
5. National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation
Call #77 – We call upon provincial, territorial, municipal, and community archives to work collaboratively with the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation to identify and collect copies of all records relevant to the history and legacy of the residential school system, and to provide these to the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation.
The AAAC has considered this Action and has asked City of Toronto Archives to review their collection for any records relevant to the history and legacy of the residential school system. If there are any documents, City Archives has been requested to notify the AAAC and provide the documents to the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation.
Call #82 – We call upon provincial and territorial governments, in collaboration with Survivors and their organizations, and other parties to the Settlement Agreement, to commission and install a publicly accessible, highly visible, Residential Schools Monument in each capital city to honour Survivors and all the children who were lost to their families and communities.
- In 2014, the Toronto and East York Community Council adopted a report to consider enhancing the name of Allan Gardens to reflect the spirit of Truth and Reconciliation. The AAAC has also considered the possibility of creating a reconciliation pathway in Allan Gardens.
- The Indian Residential School Survivors (IRSS) Legacy project, led by Toronto Council Fire Native Cultural Centre in collaboration with the City of Toronto and the Government of Ontario, identified the southwest corner of Nathan Phillips Square for the residential school sculpture in fall 2017.
- Consultations with the local community, stakeholders and local Councillor are needed before any further steps can be taken with regards to Allan Gardens.
- A Teaching, Learning, Sharing and Healing space will be the foundation of the IRSS Legacy with the Restoration of Identity sculpture being the central component. A co-developed Request for Proposal will be issued in 2019 with Toronto Council Fire Native Cultural Centre.
7. Sports and Reconciliation
Call #88 – We call upon all levels of government to take action to ensure long-term Aboriginal athlete development and growth, and continued support for the North American Indigenous Games, including funding to host the games and for provincial and territorial team preparation and travel.
The City of Toronto is the host City for the North American Indigenous Games (NAIG) for 2017. The Games are a multi-sport event and promote indigenous cultural activities, and local indigenous history.
EDC and other relevant City Divisions are working with NAIG organizers to facilitate the games.
8. Newcomers to Canada
Call #94 – Call upon the Government of Canada to replace the Oath of Citizenship with the following:
I swear (or affirm) that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, Queen of Canada, Her Heirs and Successors, and that I will faithfully observe the laws of Canada including Treaties with Indigenous Peoples, and fulfill my duties as a Canadian citizen.
This action is not within municipal jurisdiction. However, Toronto welcomes the largest number of newcomers to Canada each year. The Aboriginal Affairs Advisory Committee will explore how the City of Toronto can support this change.
Statement of Commitment to Aboriginal Peoples
The City’s Statement of Commitment identifies seven distinct goals to be fulfilled as part of the Urban Aboriginal Strategy/Framework.
The City commits to creating training opportunities for the Toronto Public Service to learn about the history and its current day impacts from Aboriginal Elders and other Aboriginal partners.
The City also commits to working with Aboriginal communities to improve public awareness of Aboriginal life in Toronto.
The City commits, when working with the Aboriginal communities in Toronto, to learning about the elements of an Aboriginal holistic approach from its Aboriginal partners.
The City further commits to supporting this approach in the belief that this will provide the greatest benefit to the community being served.
The City commits to working with Aboriginal partners to explore ways to strengthen the capacity of Aboriginal organizations and associations to plan, lead and deliver initiatives for local Aboriginal communities.
The City also commits to engaging Aboriginal communities in the City’s decision making process, to removing barriers to civic participation and to increasing the representation and role of Aboriginal people on municipal boards and committees.
The City of Toronto commits to implementing employment practices that ensure that opportunities for employment are accessible to Aboriginal people and increases the number of Aboriginal employees at all occupational levels.
The City of Toronto commits to working formally and informally with all orders of government and other municipalities, institutions and community organizations to continue exploring promising practices and opportunities for collaboration on Aboriginal initiatives and to promote the interests of Aboriginal people in Toronto, as defined by the Aboriginal communities.
The City of Toronto commits to the development of an action plan in partnership with Aboriginal communities in Toronto. The City of Toronto also commits to ensuring an accountability process is established in order to measure the success of the Statement of Commitment.
- A Reclamation of Well-Being: Visioning a Thriving and Healthy Urban Indigenous Community. Toronto’s first Indigenous Health Strategy, 2016 – 2021. Toronto Public Health
- The Journey Together. Ontario’s Commitment to Reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples. Government of Ontario
- Toronto Aboriginal Research Project. Final Report. Toronto Aboriginal Support Services Council
- Truth & Reconciliation Commission of Canada
- Indigenous agencies/businesses in Toronto