Indigenous group requests Huntsville’s active participation towards reconciliation
Not-for-profit organization, Hope Rises (HR), requested Huntsville’s active participation toward Indigenous reconciliation in the January 31, 2023, Council meeting.
President Joyce Jonathan Crone, indicated the organization has grown with the help of former Town Mayor, Karin Terziano, including being guest speakers at the Remembrance Rock ceremony on National Indigenous Day, in 2022, and working closely with the Public Library.
The organization, incorporated in 2022, also has an orange ribbon display at River Mill Park.
Vice President Laura Verdin, indicated the goal of HR is “revitalizing Indigenous ways of knowing and being.”
Other goals of HR include a relationship with the Town, updating current action and initiatives, and “requesting that the Town continues as a community partner and take an active role as leaders on the path toward reconciliation,” added Verdin.
According to Verdin, the organization’s mission is, “To strengthen awareness of cultural knowledge to address cultural misconceptions and barriers, offer expressions of reconciliation to address education, learning and connection, and guidance from elders and knowledge keepers.”
Hope Rises encourages awareness through their orange ribbon campaign, public workshops, and events.
“The interactions in the community show lack of awareness regarding Indigenous cultures. This perpetuating racial bias in this town and beyond…including vandalism to the orange ribbon display in River Mill Park,” said Verdin.
Verdin also expressed concerns about negative statements they’ve seen written at the park, including, “residential schools helped those children,” and “residential schools did not happen,” along with negative stereotypical public comments.
“Even in more amicable interactions with individuals, including Town staff, where there’s a kindness and a genuine willingness to learn, there’s still a demonstrative lack of knowledge around cultural practices and symbol of identity,” added Verdon.
The action plan of Hope Rises includes providing educational training to other organizations and businesses in the area to help counter misconceptions or negative views about Indigenous culture.
The organization challenged Town Council to participate in training to help “lead by example by supporting the 94 calls to action, in particular call 57, which calls upon all levels of government to provide education to public servants on the history of Indigenous peoples.”
The organization added they are looking to Council to “move forward in a way that is culturally informed.”
Crone added that when she and her husband moved to Huntsville nine years ago, she didn’t see herself reflected in the community. “I saw the opposite actually, and there weren’t very many of us brown skinned women or men.” She added that she’s seeing a change with a greater diversity in the community.
Mayor, Nancy Alcock, indicated, “Talks already started with staff with the recommendation to ongoing training with call 57.” Human Resources is working on putting together workshops for Council.