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First Voice and City of St. John’s Form Joint Coordinating Committee on Indigenous Rights

Press Release

May 09, 2024

The City of St. John’s and First Voice Urban Indigenous Coalition have formed a Joint Coordinating Committee on Indigenous Rights.

The committee will develop recommendations for implementing the City of St. John’s commitments outlined in Council’s 2020 Declaration in Support of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Reporting directly to Council and to the First Voice Partnership Table, the committee will strengthen collaboration to advance the urban Indigenous coalition’s 2023 Community Action Plan and its 42 Calls for Change. Eighteen of those Calls fall partly or exclusively within the City’s jurisdiction.

The committee will consist of an equal number of staff representatives from First Light St. John’s Friendship Centre and the City of St. John’s. It will be co-chaired by Justin Campbell, Director of Advocacy with First Light, and Kevin Breen, City Manager at the City of St. John’s. Two First Voice Community Advocates will also participate.

“The new Joint Coordinating Committee creates a formal process within the City of St. John’s that will ensure the inherent rights of Indigenous Peoples are duly considered in all municipal policy-making,” said Justin Campbell, Director of Advocacy with First Light Friendship Centre. “It represents an important milestone for urban Indigenous recognition in the province, and one that we hope will be followed by other levels of government.”

“In forming this Joint Coordinating Committee, the City of St. John’s is working with First Voice Urban Indigenous Coalition to take a significant step towards honouring our commitments to Indigenous Peoples and advancing truth and reconciliation,” said Kevin Breen, City Manager, City of St. John’s. “This collaborative effort will pave the way for meaningful dialogue, positive change, and a more inclusive future for all residents of St. John’s.”

To meet its goals, the committee will be responsible for the following functions:

  • Reviewing relevant City processes, procedures, policies, and bylaws;
  • Developing initiatives to make the City of St. John’s more fully inclusive of urban Indigenous Peoples;
  • Coordinating, conducting, and supporting evidence-based research;
  • Identifying funding opportunities and securing resources;
  • Reviewing opportunities for Indigenous stewardship of parks and open spaces;
  • Exploring the feasibility of a monument to honour residential school survivors, their families, and those who never made it home; and
  • Improving the visibility of Indigenous cultures, languages, and place names.

For more information, read the Joint Coordinating Committee’s Terms of Reference.

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