New city oath recognizes treaty relationship

·2 min read

The City of Brandon’s new oath of office reflects efforts toward truth and reconciliation in the community, a councillor says.

Since spring, the Brandon Urban Aboriginal Peoples Council (BUAPC) has been working with the city to add wording to the oath that councillors swear when they are elected to office. Coun. Kris Desjarlais (Rosser), who is also vice-chair of BUAPC, said the oath was already under review when the change was suggested.

As part of the amended council oath of office, which was passed on July 18, new council members will vow: “That I will faithfully observe the laws of Canada, and Treaties with Indigenous Peoples.”

When city administration first explored the idea with BUAPC, Desjarlais said, both bodies agreed that adding language to recognize Brandon’s treaty relationship was a positive step toward truth and reconciliation.

“There are … small acts of reconciliation and large acts, and this is a very straightforward, easy way to move forward in a spirit of reconciliation, and I think all council, not just BUAPC but everyone on city council, [including] the mayor and administration, would agree,” Desjarlais said.

It’s these small acts, Desjarlais said, that combine to become something greater than themselves.

“There are incremental gains to be had … these small acts are also recognized, and those are good drops in that bucket.”

Desjarlais said it’s important that council members take the meaning of the new oath seriously.

“It’s important that this not just become … surface, and that … when councillors take that oath of office, if they’re unclear on that treaty relationship and unclear on the meaning and spirit and intent, that they take it on themselves to learn that.”

Coun. Jeff Fawcett (Assiniboine), a board member of BUAPC, said the new language of the oath will help everyone in Brandon feel more comfortable and at home in the city.

“[Indigenous people] are Brandonites, same as everybody else,” Fawcett said.

“There’s that general sense of belonging and feeling a part of a community that is good for everybody.”

Fawcett said inclusion and recognition is important for all people of Brandon to feel.

“We want every one to be happy in the city. We want every one to feel they belong in the city and they have a voice.”

Miranda Leybourne, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Brandon Sun