Warning: This story offers with disturbing material which will upset and set off some readers. Discretion is suggested.
Williams Lake Mayor Walt Cobb wasted no time at a particular assembly of council Tuesday, utilizing his opening remarks to deal with a submit he shared on Fb suggesting there may be an “different facet” to residential colleges.
As reported by the Williams Lake Tribune, the submit claimed that “a lot of the older technology that did undergo are lengthy lifeless and gone or have forgiven, and it appears to me that most of the new generations simply need to be victims and really feel the cash would clear up their ache.”
At Tuesday’s particular assembly Cobb supplied an apology, explaining his submit shouldn’t be interpreted as an official place or one shared by the remainder of the town council.
“I need to state up entrance that I’ve by no means supported the idea of residential colleges as I discovered of the heartbreak that was inflicted on many First Nations communities,” he mentioned.
“I by no means meant to offend or make gentle of the residential colleges, and for these I offended I apologize and I’m critically sorry — very, very sorry.”
Nevertheless, Cobb later steered that he might also be a sufferer of the scenario.
“Because the article shared was on my private web page, and never my mayor’s web page, it’s my opinion that Williams Lake First Nation’s letter is a private assault on me, myself”, he continued. “And I do not know what the agenda may be.”
The open letter Cobb referred to from the First Nation strongly condemned his submit and referred to as on him to resign.
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Cobb additionally famous that he solely shared the article in query and didn’t say he endorsed its concepts, earlier than including, “I believed we had an settlement that when points like that arose, or considerations, that we’d not use the media as an avenue for dialogue.”
His assertion was not nicely obtained by Williams Lake councillors or Indigenous leaders attending council.
Councillor Jason Ryll might be heard sighing and seen holding his head in his arms because the mayor spoke about by no means giving any indication he supported the concepts within the article.
“Be higher,” mentioned Ryll when given an opportunity to reply.
“Be part of me in taking some cultural consciousness coaching. Assume earlier than you converse. Take a social media workshop. Have a bit of tact, man. And when you can’t or gained’t do higher then I counsel you revisit your determination to run for workplace once more.”
Councillor Craig Smith, who can also be the CEO of a neighborhood First Nations Band, turned emotional when given the possibility to deal with the mayor.
“I stand in solidarity with my Indigenous mates and colleagues of their fact and denounce all of the feedback spoken, writen or ahead by the mayor,” he mentioned.
“I’ve labored very laborious as a councillor to maneuver down a path of reconciliation and it saddens me that that is the place we’re at. If issues don’t change, I’m undecided that I can proceed to be part of this council.”
However the longest and most heartfelt response to the mayor got here from former Esk’etemc First Nation Chief Charlene Belleau, who can also be an official liaison between the B.C. authorities and First Nations on residential college websites.
She talked about crying on her complete drive to the assembly and the way the mayor’s submit triggered her to query how far relations have actually come between First Nations and metropolis councils.
“I really feel damage, I really feel violated as a matriarch coming from our communities,” mentioned Belleau.
“As a mayor you’re liable for your management, to your council. I demand your resignation efficient instantly. You’ve gotten a duty to work in the very best pursuits of the town. In my opinion, you’ve abused your place as a mayor”
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Cobb by no means straight addressed the requires him to resign from Belleau and the Williams Lake First Nation.
The dialogue ended with an Aboriginal peace tune, at Belleau’s request.
The St. Joseph’s Mission Residential College in Williams Lake operated from 1886 to 1981 and has since been demolished.
In June, Williams Lake First Nation launched a search of its grounds for unmarked burial websites utilizing ground-penetrating radar.
The Indian Residential Faculties Disaster Line (1-866-925-4419) is out there 24 hours a day for anybody experiencing ache or misery because of their residential college expertise.
–With information from Elizabeth McSheffrey
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