Indigenous Peoples & Reconciliation

The City of Burnaby recognizes that we are on the ancestral and unceded homelands of the hən̓q̓əmin̓əm̓ and Sḵwx̱wú7mesh Sníchim speaking peoples and are grateful to be on this territory

Since 2016, the City of Burnaby has been working toward truth and reconciliation. We are committed to working with Indigenous peoples to find new ways to build and improve relationships between non-Indigenous Canadians and Indigenous communities.

To learn more about the history of local Indigenous people, see our award-winning guidebook, Indigenous history in Burnaby.

National Day for Truth and Reconciliation — September 30, 2023

The City of Burnaby is committed to actively working with the four host Nations on whose unceded territory the City of Burnaby is located, including the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish), səlilwətaɬ (Tsleil-Waututh), and kʷikʷəƛ̓əm (Kwikwetlem) Peoples, as well as the urban Indigenous population who live in Burnaby, to advance reconciliation by building and maintaining positive relationships to meaningfully do this important work together – on National Day for Truth and Reconciliation and all days.

At Burnaby City Hall, we are recognizing National Day for Truth and Reconciliation by:

  • Displaying artworks by Indigenous artists from the City of Burnaby Permanent Art Collection inside of City Hall all through September
  • Lighting up City Hall orange on September 30 in honour of the children who never returned home and survivors of residential schools, as well as their families and the entire Indigenous community

At the Shadbolt Centre for the Arts, we are honoured to present: 

  • Bunk #7, a play by accomplished storyteller Larry Guno, is the true story of six boys and a riot at Edmonton Indian Residential School
  • Haida Modern, a film screening documenting the life and legacy of renowned master artist Robert Davidson

In the community, we have:

Actions we're taking to promote truth and reconciliation

The 2015 Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada: Calls to Action (TRC) lists 94 recommendations to "redress the legacy of residential schools and advance the process of Canadian reconciliation." Of those, the following calls to action have been our areas of focus:

  • #43 To fully adopt and implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples as a framework for reconciliation.
  • #47 To repudiate concepts used to justify European sovereignty over Indigenous peoples and lands.
  • #55 To provide annual reports and any current data to the National Centre for Reconciliation to report reconciliation progress.
  • #57 To provide education to public servants on the history of Aboriginal peoples, including the history and legacy of residential schools. This will require skills-based training in intercultural competency, conflict resolution, human rights, and anti-racism.
  • #75 As applicable, developing and implementing strategies and procedures for the ongoing protection of residential school cemeteries. This includes the provision of appropriate memorial ceremonies and commemorative markers to honour the deceased children.
  • #77 To work collaboratively with the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation to identify and collect copies of all records relevant to the history and legacy of the residential school system.
  • #87 In collaboration with Aboriginal peoples, sports halls of fame and other relevant organizations, to provide public education that tells the national story of Aboriginal athletes in history.
  • #88 To take action to ensure long-term Aboriginal athlete development and growth and continued support for North American Indigenous Games.

In addition to these Calls, we are open to appropriately supporting other governments and organizations in their truth and reconciliation work.

Our progress

The City Council has initiated formal relations on a government-to-government level with xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh Úxwumixw (Squamish),  səlil̓ilw̓ətaʔɬ (Tsleil-Waututh), and kʷikʷəƛ̓əm (Kwikwetlem) Nations. As our understanding of the history of this territory grows, we may explore relationships with other Nations.

Such connections aim to recognize and address the consequences of colonial policies and the corresponding lasting impacts experienced by Indigenous peoples while establishing effective working relationships. Once established, these relationships can guide further processes, projects and efforts to advance reconciliation at a corporate level.

As corporate reconciliation efforts increase and more staff are engaged in associated activities, there is a need to coordinate and prioritize information, consultation and collaboration opportunities with local Nations. The City has created a new role of Manager, Indigenous Relations, to oversee the City's framework for reconciliation and serve as the City's primary contact for its relationships and interactions with local Nations and Indigenous people.

Contact [email protected] for more information.

In recent years, the City has recognized the need for and begun to demonstrate ancestral and ongoing Indigenous presence on this land physically.

This work has resulted in creating an Indigenous Learning Week (in partnership with the Burnaby School District) and Matriarch's Garden at Burnaby Village Museum, the development of school/public programs at Burnaby Art Gallery and Burnaby Village Museum that incorporate and feature Indigenous content. It has also led to creating staff guidelines that inform and actualize territory acknowledgement at City events and in civic documents.

We have also created an Indigenous Learning House at Burnaby Village Museum. The museum's Indigenous educators work closely with local First Nations, Indigenous artists, elders and knowledge keepers to develop Indigenous curriculum materials for museum visitors. This work has also informed other related City processes and programs and has formed a cornerstone of the City's reconciliation efforts. Further opportunities to learn more and participate in Indigenous-led or oriented education and programs can be found on Recreation and Arts.

These processes and projects have strengthened staff relationships with local Nations, creating opportunities for possible further action to implement the TRC calls to action for local governments at a corporate level.

As part of the process, the council recognized the National Day of Indigenous Peoples. We actively promote and support Orange Shirt Day on September 30 each year.

Call #57 references the importance of training public servants to implement reconciliation efforts at a government level. The creation and formalization of Canada's governance structures occurred when our country's history was defined by apparent systematic attempts at destroying Indigenous peoples and their ways of life. The impacts of these structures and associated injustices continue to reverberate for Indigenous peoples and Nations.

The City aims to root out those harmful colonial processes and practices in our operations and services and develop training opportunities for our staff. This will help them operate in a culturally safe way and embed truth and reconciliation into their work.

How to pronounce

Important dates

  • May 5 – National Day of Awareness for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women & Girls

  • June 21 – National Day of Indigenous Peoples

  • September 30 – Orange Shirt Day/National Day for Truth and Reconciliation

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