City of Humboldt councillors and administrators entertained a presentation by the Office of the Treaty Commissioner (OTC) and Heritage Saskatchewan at its regular monthly meeting on March 27. Rhett Sangster of the (OTC) and Kristin Catherwood of Heritage Saskatchewan shared background on the City’s pilot program on Truth and Reconciliation. The presentation took place by Zoom. 

Sangster presented the results of a 2019 provincial survey that helped the organization develop strategies for Reconciliation and Treaty implementation. The basis was to establish a shared vision for success, and then to create connections with people. The hope was to facilitate action with impact to be measured as a guide for future initiatives. 

“We started off by asking people ‘what does success look like if we all imagine a future where Treaty implementation and Reconciliation has happened’,” Sangster explained to Council. “We asked thousands of people in Saskatchewan from all walks of life, and we put those voices together in a vision.”

Connecting people is accomplished by establishing Reconciliation Circles in various corners of the province. Circles are operating nearby in Saskatoon and the Yellow Quill / Kelvington area, with the hope that such a group may be established in the Humboldt region. 

Sangster said the shared vision revealed four overlapping components that need to be worked on: a shared understanding of our history, vibrant cultures and worldviews, systems (Like judicial, education and health) that benefit us all, and the evolution of authentic relationships. 

The results of the survey were revealing when it came to attitudes, cultural knowledge, and understanding about the Calls to Action forwarded by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. 

The efforts by the OTC laid the groundwork for the Humboldt Pilot Project “Relationship Building and Reconciliation Through Living Heritage.”

Kristen Catherwood of Heritage Saskatchewan outlined the genesis of the pilot which stemmed from a conversation between her and Sangster. Catherwood explained that Humboldt’s selection as the seat of the pilot had much to do with Cultural Services Director Jennifer Fitzpatrick and her advocacy.

“When we were looking for a community to work in, we knew we wanted it to be outside of a major urban centre,” Catherwood explained. “Although Humboldt is a city, it has rural roots and a connection to a large agricultural region around. It’s quite centrally located in the southern province. It’s vibrant, dynamic, it’s growing and it’s increasingly diverse.” 

Catherwood said the pilot would flourish given the resources provided by the permanently staffed Cultural Services Department housed in the Museum and Gallery. For the next year, Cultural Services, Heritage Saskatchewan staff members and board, Aboriginal Friendship Centres and the OTC will work together to provide the kinds of programming that Humboldt residents have experience. The unveiling of the Reconciliation mural, featuring Indigenous artist Kevin PeeAce, is just one such event. The group was involved in the recent survey around attitudes toward and knowledge about Indigenous culture and Reconciliation. The survey received over 100 responses. A report on the survey results will be released shortly.

Humboldt can expect more events, unveilings and activities in conjunction with agencies like the Horizon School Division. There will be more information forthcoming as the group continues its strategic launch of initiatives. 

Council expressed its appreciation to all involved for the work surrounding action toward Truth and Reconciliation.