As we move through the final few days of June, I am taking time to reflect on many important issues of social justice and inclusivity that have been top of mind for many of us over the past month.
June is National Indigenous History Month and our country has come face to face with 215 lost children whose unmarked graves were found at the Kamloops Residential School in B.C. and, even more recently, 751 unmarked graves found at the Marieval Indian Residential School in Saskatchewan. We know there are more to be found, and Mayors from across Ontario called on our federal government to recognize the importance of and support the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada’s Calls to Action. The city supported local artist Amber Ruthart (White Bear First Nations, Treaty #4) as she dedicated a moving art installation called A Hope for Healing at Spencer Smith Park to honour and remember the lives lost. We lowered our flags at City Hall and have seen shoes left on the steps of Civic Square. The City of Burlington is committed to action and delivering on our part as a municipality toward reconciliation, including holding educational workshops at the city and region as a next step. As Canada Day approaches later this week, we will light our pier orange and invite all members of our community to reflect and to learn more about the history of residential schools and the TRC’s Calls to Action.
June was also PRIDE Month and the people of Burlington demonstrated their commitment to being inclusive and supportive of our 2SLGBTQIA+ community. Residents voted by the thousands to help us decide where to put our next rainbow crosswalks throughout the city, rainbow flags were flown at city hall and on countless buildings and homes throughout the community, and Spencer Smith Park had some brilliant and colourful displays to mark the occasion.
June reminded us that hate and racism are issues we must continue to confront and eradicate in Canada. We lost four members of a beautiful Muslim family in nearby London, Ontario in an act of terrorism, and leaders across the country denounced this evil and cowardly act.
Everyone deserves to feel safe and respected in this country no matter what their beliefs or backgrounds are. Our city partnered with the Halton Islamic Association and our local Halton Mosque to host a community prayer service at Spencer Smith Park. A traditional Muslim prayer service took place first, followed by a unifying prayer for the entire community. It was heartening to see so many people come together to show that we stand with our Muslim community and support inclusivity, kindness and love. I look forward to the Halton Mosque drive-thru BBQ this coming Saturday!
I want to thank all of you who live and work in Burlington for the way you embrace and support the principles of equity, diversity and inclusion and make our city a welcoming and safe place for everyone who lives here and visits us.
You can read my full weekly update for the week ahead here: Mayors Weekly Public Update June 28 – July 4
Mayor Marianne Meed Ward