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Kitchener councillors hit with piles of emails supporting Land Back camp

This Monday, council will be voting on establishing a team dedicated to addressing social justice issues, including Indigenous initiatives
Indigenous Land Back camp
The Indigenous Land Back Camp has been set up in Victoria Park since June 20. Phi Doan/ KitchenerToday

Kitchener city councillors have been flooded with emails in the lead up to Monday's council meeting.

Previously, 570 NEWS reported that Ward 1 Councillor Scott Davey had received over 300 emails so far in the lead up to the meeting.

The City of Kitchener is set to vote on a motion around establishing a team dedicated to addressing social justice issues, like equity, anti-racism and Indigenous initiatives. The motion itself was the recommendation from the mayor's taskforce on equity, diversity and inclusion, spurred on by the Black Lives Matter march this year and the establishment of O:se Kenhionhata:tie, the Indigenous Land Back camp in Victoria Park.

The flood of emails was, in part, the result of an email campaign by the camp and its supporters.

"The mayor messaged me the other day to ask to be added to that list," said co-organizer Amy Smoke, Mohawk Nation Turtle Clan from Six Nations of the Grand River.

"This is unprecedented; it would be a huge step forward and an example to be setting for other municipalities, other cities, regions across Turtle Island to begin address the systemic racism; the anti-Black, anti-Indigenous racism that permeates all of the of these spaces."

Smoke listed off several issues affecting their community, in regards to the lack of permanent Indigenous spaces in the region; the lack of two-spirit, queer and non-binary spaces for Indigenous youth; and the lack of funding for Indigenous services in general. Spending day in and day out at the O:se Kenhionhata:tie, Smoke has seen their fair share of anti-Indigenous racism on full display.

"In particular, the anti-Black and anti-Indigenous racism in the cities and we are seeing it on a daily basis," they said. "The solidarity in which my community has with (the African, Caribbean and Black Network) and (Black Lives Matter) and broader racialized, marginalized communities; we are stronger together."

Indigenous activists at the camp have been in ongoing discussions with the cities of Kitchener and Waterloo around their demands. So far they have succeeded in waiving park fees to hold Indigenous events, which was a constant barrier for the community that had no permanent Indigenous space in the region.

Should Monday's motion pass, it would cross off the third item on their list: the hiring of Indigenous people to city positions.

Several potential full-time positions are listed in the meeting agenda that includes a senior Indigenous advisor, a senior anti-racism advisor, research and data analyst and social planning associate.

You can join the emailing campaign HERE. They strongly advise you also take time to personalized the email as well.

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