News / Toronto

All City of Toronto staff to be trained on Indigenous history

Training follows Mayor John Tory's hiring of an Indigenous Affairs Officer.

Coun. Mary-Margaret McMahon has introduced a motion to train city staff on Indigenous history.

File / Torstar News Service

Coun. Mary-Margaret McMahon has introduced a motion to train city staff on Indigenous history.

It may soon be back to school for Toronto city public servants.

In its ongoing quest to fulfill the Calls to Action from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission report, the city is planning to introduce an Indigenous cultural competency training for all its staff.

The training is a response to one of the recommendations from the report, which asks governments – federal, provincial, territorial and municipal – to work on providing public servants with a history of Aboriginal people. Some cities, like Mississauga, have already started implementing such training programs for staff.

Coun. Mary-Margaret McMahon who successfully introduced a motion at City Council on the issue last week, said the city is “way behind” on implementing the recommendations.

“This is about making council members and their staff more mindful of our own history and more inclusive of Indigenous people,” she said, noting efforts are underway across the city to create indigenous placemaking in parks.

The training is expected to help strengthen relationships between Indigenous and non-Indigenous organizations across the city. Through this educational process, city staff will gain cultural competence to engage with urban Indigenous groups for better services in their communities.

The city’s Aboriginal affairs committee will collaborate with the office of equity, diversity and human rights to assess the needs for the training to be implemented. A report on the process is expected back in September.  

Mayor John Tory has also recently hired an Indigenous Affairs Officer – Lindsay Kretschmer – whose job is to liaise with local Indigenous communities and provide expert policy and strategic advice to the city.

McMahon said some individual councillors are working with Indigenous advisors as part of implementing the city’s Aboriginal employment and education strategy.

“Incorporating Indigenous heritage or cultural awareness into our city projects would be enormously helpful,” she said. “We need to get going on putting those reconciliation calls into practice.”

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