Witness Reconciliation Program

Witness Reconciliation Program

The Witness Reconciliation Program brings together traditional Indigenous Witnesses from both the Esquimalt and Songhees Nations' Councils, and a City Family, comprised of a combination of City Council members, appointees from the Nations, both Indigenous and non-Indigenous community appointees, and two City staff members as support for the Program.

At this time, the City Family consists of Mayor Lisa Helps, Councillor Marianne Alto, Councillor Ben Isitt, Councillor Charlayne Thornton-Joe, Brianna Dick, Katie Hooper, Carey Newman, Janice Simcoe, Thomas Soulliere and Colleen Mycroft.

The first Witness Ceremony took place on June 16, 2017 at the Royal BC Museum, timed with the start of the Aboriginal Cultural Festival.

Role of City Family

In coming together, the City Family works with an Indigenous Speaker who recounts the ideas brought forward by the City Family for the consideration of the Witnesses. After each Witness Ceremony is complete, and the advice of the Witnesses is offered and heard, the City Family facilitates the actions needed to realize the ideas endorsed by the Witnesses. Subsequent Witness Ceremonies provide an opportunity to reflect on the actions done, as well as look forward to future actions.

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission's (TRC's) Calls to Action, located on page 319 of the Summary of the Report, provides context and a framework for the Witness Reconciliation program, its participants and its work.

The Witness Reconciliation Program considers how the City might respond to the five recommendations highlighted by the TRC for attention by municipalities but will also work in the broadest manner to realize, on a local scale, the TRC's mandate to tell Canadians what happened in the Indian Residential Schools, create a permanent record of what happened in the Indian Residential Schools, and foster healing and reconciliation within Canada.