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October 18, 2017
July 13, 2017

Edmonton Headlines: Thursday, July 13, 2017

Reconciliation attempts

Written by Jeff Samsonow

Photo: Office of the Mayor/Edmonton City as a Museum

Edmonton is still working to figure out the best way to build a permanent monument to remember the victims of residential schools. This is one of the calls to action from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s report on residential schools. While Edmonton’s had people working on this for a couple of years, there’s still not a clear idea of what the memorial might look like or where it could go.

That’s not all bad, of course, since the committee tasked with this actually began work before the TRC’s final report. And conversation with Indigenous, Metis and Inuit communities is integral to doing something that’s respectful and educational.

On a similar theme… Strathcona County council has taken time to reflect on their earlier decision to refuse to acknowledge its place on Treaty 6 lands and will be opening all meetings and events the recognition. This passed unanimously at council. This, of course, isn’t near enough to really bring about some reconciliation with Indigenous peoples, but it’s a good first step.

Along with the verbal recognition, representatives of Treaty 6 communities will be invited to a committee meeting. Historical information of Indigenous peoples of the area will also be included in orientation information of new councillors.


Review of police carding

The Edmonton Police Commission is going to put together an independent review of street checks (also known as carding) to see if it’s “respectful of all the people served by the EPS.” The review will be done by an outside investigator. The mayor is also supporting the review.

Definitely not as bold a stance as other mayors on the issue. But at least Don Iveson is publicly talking about the issue. (This will become important since nobody is running against him and he’s likely to be mayor come October 17, and will continue to face this issue.)

While the review is a good (PR) move, I’m not sure what new information it’s going to turn up that wasn’t found in the two examinations of carding data by CBC and Black Lives Matter Edmonton. If the new review shows the same over-representation of Edmontonians who are Black, Indigenous and people of colour (BIPOC) being stopped by police what’s going to happen? Something? Nothing? Another review?

Unless the data police turned over for those two reports is wrong or faulty, we’ll get nothing but a third analysis showing racial profiling. Sure, maybe because this one is “official” the police commission, police service or city council will pay more attention. But still, they’re going to have to decide to stand with or against communities asking for a ban at that point (at this point they sure aren’t standing with the communities being targeted).

The funny thing is, (funny in that sad, time and money-wasting, ignoring minority voices kind of way) we can look at other places where the issue of carding has already been under scrutiny and see exactly where this is going to end up. If the mayor and city council, police commissioners or the police chief just wanted to skip all the white fragility and get to severely limiting or banning carding, it would save us all a lot of time. And it would actually build better connections to communities police are currently criminalizing and victimizing.

This issue is going to continue to be an important one in Edmonton, and we’re going to keep tracking the latest news in one place.


Around the city

The Centre LRT study area. source: City of Edmonton

The City is beginning its work on finding out what people want to do about an LRT connection between Old Strathcona, Bonnie Doon and the downtown (and further east out toward Strathcona County) called the “Centre LRT”. Feels to me like LRT might be a bit much for a stretch of Whyte Avenue already well-served by buses, only to be better-served as the transit strategy changes. That being said, an LRT extension that connects neighbourhoods east of Bonnie Doon and could head onward to Sherwood Park is a good bit of future-planning. (And, 76 Avenue is another likely candidate for an east-west transit connection too.)

There’s a push on to revamp Edmonton’s tree protection policies, and a couple of community groups would like to see tree preservation become part of the new bylaw, especially during construction and redevelopment.

St. Albert city council voted to borrow money to build a new library branch, even though a petition forced the question onto the fall election ballot. This is one contentious library!

Beaumont is looking to build an arts and performing arts centre.

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