By Joel van der Veen
ELBOW — Does Elbow have a racism problem?
No more so than anywhere else in Saskatchewan, said the village’s mayor, Rob Hundeby.
But the mayor said his village can set an example for the rest of the province and beyond by committing to tackle prejudice.
“I believe we’re taking a leadership role . . . (and) other municipalities, they’re taking note,” Hundeby told the Leader on Wednesday.
“This is something we can be proud of . . . We’re leading change.”
On Tuesday, Hundeby met with Chief Bobby Cameron to sign a memorandum of understanding and a pledge of reconciliation with the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations (FSIN) in Saskatoon.
The agreement expresses the village’s commitment to eliminating racism by educating its staff and elected officials.
Topics to be covered will include the history of treaty, residential schools and colonialism, and the treaty and inherent rights of indigenous people.
Hundeby said he believes this is a starting point for his village and other communities to address the pervasive effects of racism.
“These people don’t need racist views or stereotypes judging them,” he said. “I do believe these people need hope, they need love, they need compassion, and we have to start somewhere.”
Hundeby said he was moved to respond after hearing Cameron speak about reconciliation at the Saskatchewan Urban Municipalities Association (SUMA) convention in February.
The chief had said it was significant that SUMA had extended the invitation for him to speak in a forum where indigenous voices are not usually front and centre.
The speech led Hundeby to reflect on his own background and ask himself whether or not he had ever held racist thoughts or attitudes.
“The answer was yes,” he said. “Saying an off-colour joke, stuff like that.”
Hundeby said he recognized how the influences of his youth had affected his attitudes towards indigenous people.
Afterward, he approached the chief to apologize and ask for forgiveness.
The mayor said Cameron accepted the apology and, placing his hands on his shoulders, asked Hundeby if he was willing to take this public.
Hundeby brought the matter back to council, who voted unanimously in April in favour of the agreement. The exact wording was finalized on the weekend, leading to Tuesday’s press conference in Saskatoon.
For the full story, please see the May 1 edition of The Davidson Leader or call 306-567-2047 to subscribe today.