Happy June Kitchener! It’s hard to believe that we are already almost half-way through 2021 and that in about 10 days we will officially be welcoming Summer 2021 on June 20th. The last fifteen months have been challenging for all of us, but with more and more people in Kitchener and throughout Waterloo Region being vaccinated, the stay-at-home order behind us and the Province of Ontario’s new re-opening framework almost upon us, there is much to look forward to in Summer 2021!
REMEMBERING THE 215 CHILDREN OF THE TK’EMLÚPS TE SECWÉPEMC FIRST NATION
A little more than a week ago, residents of Kitchener and people across Canada learned of the gut-wrenching discovery of the remains of 215 children buried at the former Kamloops Indian Residential School. This is, without question, a national tragedy. Last week, on behalf of our community, I extended my heartfelt condolences to the families and communities of these children, who remain in our hearts and our minds.
As a community, the residents of Kitchener stand alongside the Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc First Nation and all survivors of the horrific residential school system, who have been forced to remember and re-live their trauma upon hearing this news.
Each of these 215 children had a name and a family. None of them returned home and their families were never granted the dignity of knowing what happened. This tragedy is another reminder of the important work done by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and how much more work needs to be done to achieve true reconciliation.
This tragedy is a reminder of this horrific part of our country’s history and last week, we joined cities and communities across Canada in lowering our flags at all city facilities for 215 hours to mourn together with all Canadians. I also joined Chief R. Stacey Laforme of the Mississaugas of the Credit and others in the call for a National Day of Mourning and I joined Canada’s Big City Mayors’ Caucus in lending our support to a national initiative to identify, commemorate and protect residential school burial sites across Canada, a process that must be Indigenous-led and carried out through ceremony.
It’s important to understand that this tragedy calls for so much more; it underscores the need for continued education and awareness about Canadian history, the ongoing oppression of Indigenous people and the anti-Indigenous racism that our institutions have been built upon.
All Kitchener residents can take action throughout June – National Indigenous History Month – by learning more about the devastating history of the Residential School system. Residents can also show respect and solidarity by making a donation to a local Indigenous organization or by placing an orange ribbon, a teddy bear or a pair of children’s shoes outside their home during the month of June as a small but powerful reminder of this tragedy and a symbol of remembrance.
I want to recognize the impact this news may have on the mental health and well-being of residents in Kitchener and throughout our region. If you require it, support is available for those in need
· Waterloo Wellington Here 24/7 Addictions, Mental Health & Crisis Support - Phone: 1-844-437-3247 (HERE247), Website: https://here247.ca
· Indian Residential School Survivors Society - Phone: 1-866-925-4419, Website: https://irsss.ca
· Kids Help Phone, 24/7 distress line - Phone: 1-800-668-6868, Website: https://kidshelpphone.ca
As we reflect on this tragedy, the City of Kitchener continues to support First Nations, Métis and Inuit communities and partners in meaningful efforts towards reconciliation and is committed to taking real action to do our part. To learn more about the City of Kitchener’s work, visit: https://kitchener.ca .
As individuals and as a community, we must all renew our commitment to educate ourselves and address the recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
Next week, Kitchener City Council committee will be considering the TransformWR strategy which shows how the City of Kitchener and other municipalities within Waterloo region will reduce our local greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 80% by the year 2050, meeting our Paris climate change accord agreements.
TransformWR was developed by area municipalities and local non-profits through the ClimateActionWR collaborative, administered by Reep Green Solutions and Sustainable Waterloo Region.
Achieving our targets will require bold and immediate action from everyone across the community. All of us, as municipalities, businesses, organizations, and individuals, have important roles to play.
A central goal of the TransformWR strategy is using work to reduce GHG emissions to transform Waterloo region into an equitable, prosperous, and resilient low carbon community over the next 30 years.
The TransformWR strategy focuses on transforming four areas to make the biggest impact:
How we move (transportation)
How we build and operate our spaces (buildings)
How we produce, consume and waste (waste and agriculture), and
How we relate (equity and economic development)
The TransformWR strategy was developed with funding support from the Federation of Canadian Municipalities through their Transition 2050 program. Watch for additional information on this in the months ahead.
CANADA DAY 2021
The City of Kitchener has some exciting plans in the works to celebrate Canada Day, beginning in the week leading up to July 1st. Our plans need to conform to the most recent public health regulations and ensure that we celebrate in a COVID-19 safe way. While I can’t provide the update here, I encourage you to visit www.kitchenerevents.ca as we get closer to the big week to find out more details about Kitchener’s 2021 Canada Day celebrations!