Hamilton Legal Clinic Shares Reconciliation Report – “An Historic Moment”

“This is an historic moment,” noted Constance McKnight, Executive Director of De dwa da dehs nye>s Aboriginal Health Centre, speaking at a community event at Hamilton City Hall last month.

‘For a mainstream organization to take this leadership and initiative is an important step in the spirit of reconciliation.”

Ms. McKnight was referring to a report from the Hamilton Community Legal Clinic called A Journey to ReconciliAction – Calls to Action Report.

The report contains sixteen recommendations. These recommendations address 14 Calls to Action that apply to the clinic’s work which are contained within the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s (TRC) report released in 2015. It is available on the clinic’s website (www.hamiltonjustice.ca) as a Word document.

“In the spirit of Indigenous principles of sharing knowledge and wisdom we are passing on the report to our Community Partners and others in the community,” said Lyndon George Indigenous Justice Coordinator at the Hamilton Community Legal Clinic.

One organization accepting the report was the City of Hamilton. Shylo Elmayan (pictured shylo-elmayanbelow) is the new staff person facilitating the development of the city’s first Urban Indigenous Strategy.

Ms. Elmayan noted that while it is not common practice to share a report in this manner, this sharing helps all to understand that we have a lot to learn from the work of the TRC. (Here is a report from TVO on Hamilton’s strategy
http://tvo.org/article/current-affairs/shared-values/the-story-behind-hamiltons-new-urban-indigenous-strategy)

Other organizations and community groups will be able to use the report as they see fit and take responsibility for the Calls to Action that impacts them.

The 16 recommendations include a call to support Indigenous clients and staff of the clinic using their traditional names to identify themselves. Another recommendation states that the Clinic’s public legal education initiatives for Indigenous peoples must be culturally sensitive and safe. All the recommendations align themselves with the TRC Calls to Action and/or the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

Clinic Executive Director Hugh Tye pointed to Recommendation #2 in the Clinic’s document as being of particular importance.

“Recommendation #2 calls for us to honour Indigenous laws, traditions, principles , customs and applications as an influential guide for the development/revision of our polices practices and procedures. We’ll be working towards that,” says Tye.fred and sandi #2

The Clinic already took a bold step when it closed its offices on June 21, 2016 to celebrate National Aboriginal Day (NAD).

“The decision by the Clinic’s Board to make NAD an annual holiday for staff is a reflection of the Clinic’s organizational values and demonstrates a commitment to ReconciliACTION,” says Board President Sandi Bell (pictured sharing report with Hamilton Mayor Fred Eisenberger).

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