Will the truth lead to real reconciliation - might within the Indigenous community - not going to happen at Council

Pepper Parr

 October 3rd, 2022



We live in a time where offence is easily taken.  We live in a time that has information coming at us relentlessly and we often fail to read what is said carefully.  Late in September I wrote a piece that used the word “natives” when referring to staff at city hall.  Some took the use of the word “natives” as a reference to the Indigenous people who are rightly called member of the First Nations.

If we have offended anyone we apologize, and, for those who were offended, we do apologize – not for what we wrote but for not writing as clearly as should have.  The Gazette has been an advocate for the Indigenous community long before it became popular.


Perhaps it is my jaundiced eye.

Let’s see if you see it the way I saw it when the two events came together for me.

The Day for National Truth and Reconciliation is to be celebrated on September 30th; which is a paid holiday declared by the federal government.

Burlington decided they would give the holiday to employees as well; a clause in a union contract required the city to give the union members the holiday and the big poohbahs at city hall decided they could keep the natives from getting too restless by giving everyone the holiday.

The usual grumbling from tax payers who are neither members of the unions at city hall nor federal government employees was heard.

The 30th happens to be the day the people involved with the purchase of the Bateman High School property are said to be signing the deal.

The public has been clamouring to know just how many dollars are going to move from one side of the bargaining table to the other, but were told on numerous occasions, that there is no deal until the sale closes – which was supposed to be the 30th.

Would that make some kind of a truth and a bit of a reconciliation – truth being the public learning what the idea of turning a decommissioned high school into a community centre is going to cost? The reconciliation will come when the public realizes that there is not yet a complete plan for the site which is very big and there might be a significant asbestos removal bill to contend with.

The Mayors loves the idea of turning the school into a community centre; has been a champion of the idea before the decision to close the school was final.

Back when the Halton District School Board was working with the communities to decide which of the seven high schools would be closed – Marianne Meed Ward, at the time a mere city councillor, was very active in ensuring that Central High School was not closed. The way to keep Central open was to ensure Bateman was closed.

The matter of how much information the public was going to have resulted in a city Councillor beinmg sanctioned by the Integrity Commissioner for uttering a figure that was an approximation of what it was all going to cost.

That was enough for two Councillors to file complaints with the Integrity Commissioner that resulted in the Councillor being docked five days pay.

That Integrity Commissioner said after he had rendered his decision that had he known that the Councillor he had sanction was not truly remorseful he would have taken away 30 days pay.

The Councillor stood her ground and said if it took five days pay to get the issue of just how much information the public was going to be given when Council came out of CLOSED meetings then she saw it as money well spent or words to that effect.

A while later the city brought in legal counsel that specializes in CLOSED door council meetings and what the public should be told when the CLOSED meeting ends. They, in the most possible polite terms told the city that their practices needed improvement.

Reconciliation indeed.

Our Mayor wasn’t finished with the Councillor Sometime later she used her power to re-order a Council meeting agenda and did her best to force the Council member to publicly read an apology the Councillor had said she was prepared to give a member of city Staff at the end of the Council meeting.

The Mayor wanted the apology done during the council meeting where it could be debated – thus giving the two councillors who filed the complaint with the Integrity another opportunity to pile on.

This is the kind of stuff you see on television.  Did we make it up.  CLICK to listen to what Mayor Meed Ward chose to do

Salt with Pepper is the musings, reflections and opinions of the publisher of the Burlington Gazette, an online newspaper that was formed in 2010 and is a member of the National Newsmedia Council.


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8 comments to Will the truth lead to real reconciliation – might within the Indigenous community – not going to happen at Council

  • Alfred


    Free speach lives no more? Shall we re-write history too, as per your instructions as well?

    • David Barker

      Come on Alfred. It’s nothing to do with free speach. It’s about respect and understanding. Understanding thar words and phrases used and acceptable in bygone days are no longer acceptable or appropriate because they are demeaning and hurtful

  • Helen Donohoe

    Idioms such as “the natives are restless” are dated; they belong to another era. It’s time to drop them altogether.

  • Penny Hersh

    Rosemary, what do you think of our Mayor in her current bulletin telling people to wear an orange shirt ( which is fine as this is what the indigenous community has suggested) and moccasins?

    How condescending to suggest that people wear moccasins.

    I also read the article. I thought from the start that the editor was referring to staff, however, I can see how it could have been misconstrued.

  • Rosemary

    Perhaps you could spend Truth and Reconciliation day learning how offensive language like making “the natives restless” is to many Indigenous people. And then you might want to stop using such a solemn occasion to connect to a completely different issue about a Council decision.

    Editor’s note. The word that offends you was referring to staff at city hall. You have misread the point that was being made.

  • perryb

    You had me at “jaundiced”.

  • I’m not sure giving everyone the holiday was the best choice. It is taxpayer’s money after all.

  • Penny Hersh

    Truth and Transparency might be a good motto used by the new candidates running for office. It would be refreshing.