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FEBRUARY, 2018

Seeking a Way Forward: From Many Peoples, Strength

First off, I have had people raise concerns that I have weighed in on the details and outcome of this trial. I want to emphasize that I am not, and have not been, speaking about the facts of the case or the decisions of the judge or jury. That is not my role.

I have also had people ask why I joined with Indigenous Chiefs and leaders and the Boushie family, at a press conference and rally on Saturday. The reason I did this is because over the course of these last tense days, I met with many of these leaders, and even with their heavy hearts they repeatedly stated that we need to find a way to come together at this time. We cannot let this situation tear us apart.

As Mayor, I have made it central to my leadership that we are stronger united than divided.

I have, and will, stand alongside anyone who says they are prepared to work together to address the deep divisions in our society that have been revealed with the shooting of Colten Boushie and the trial.

It is more important than ever to confront the undercurrent of racism that has become escalated since this happened. We have been aware of racism and discrimination in our city and province, but the level of contempt and hatred that has emerged in comments online and in daily interactions has revealed the magnitude of these sentiments.

This cannot be tolerated if we are to build a better society. They are a risk to our future.

We have a choice in this moment: to either find a way to come together as people sharing this land and this community, or to allow the divisions to get deeper and tear us apart.

This is about a relationship and what we risk if we give up on each other. We have been celebrating and talking about reconciliation during the good times, but we need to continue this work during the difficult times as well.

When I speak, I do so as the father of three children. My children have been told that the promise of Canada is that we are one of the greatest countries in the world because we welcome diversity and have a commitment to creating inclusive communities where all people can succeed.

I speak to you all with this motivation in my heart. If this is the story of our country that we want our children to believe and if we want it to become true, then we have to come to terms with the hard reality of where this dream is failing.

I still believe that in Canada we can become a society of mutual understanding, of common purpose, and of equality made strong by many people.

If you believe this isn’t possible, then I ask you what kind of future you are imagining for the generations to come, as First Nations and Métis populations are growing and as global movements of people expand our diversity? If the divisions grow, consider the country we are leaving for our children.

At this pivotal time in our country, we have to commit to a different future together, one that starts with understanding why this has been so divisive and devastating, and what steps we need to take to create this country we aspire to be.

I ask those of you in the non-Indigenous community to listen to the words of so many Indigenous leaders and mothers and elders as they talk about the future they want. They have been making a continued call for us to come together. It is a message that there is still hope, and a hand reached out if we will take it.

Listen to that message.

We cannot build a future on only one side, this needs to be done together. We need to listen and learn, and find out together what is feeding the fear and hate and hopelessness. Ultimately, we need to figure out as a society what we can do to address this, because we need to do better at all levels of government and make sure that our economy, our education system and our justice system serve everyone.

We are doing it in Saskatoon through urban reserves, our own educational awareness raising, through partnerships on energy production, and with the commitment from 72 organizations and businesses that are a part of the Reconciliation Saskatoon working group.

I want to thank all of the people and organizations for all of your efforts here and across the country to engage in meaningful efforts towards Reconciliation. This moment reveals how far we have to go. We still are not fulfilling the promises that many of us have made to our children about our shared country being one of diversity and inclusiveness.

My job as a mayor is to make sure I am doing the best I can to make our city a place where people feel a sense of belonging, a sense of a future for themselves and their families. We will not be a healthy, resilient city if people do not feel they belong, do not feel they are heard, and do not have hope.

This is the choice I am asking you all to make. Choose a future together, let us build relationships with each other, and be, as our provincial motto states, “From many peoples, strength.”

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