Siloam Mission unveils new commitment to truth and reconciliation

Siloam Mission announced a new commitment to truth and reconciliation

The organization said the commitment involves responses to numerous calls to action from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, as well as details on how it will incorporate truth and reconciliation principles into its mission, vision and values.

“Today is really about what we can acknowledge has happened and how we are moving forward,” said Siloam Mission CEO Tessa Blaikie Whitecloud.

The commitment includes seeking and respecting the guidance of knowledge keepers, advisors and staff to ensure their space is not harmful to Indigenous people, to adopt practices that ensure Indigenous people have equitable access to jobs, training and education, and to recognize the value of Indigenous healing practices, by making elder supports available whenever possible.

The commitment was developed in the wake of the Laborero Report, which was commissioned following a wave of criticism in January of 2021 from a group called ‘Not My Siloam,’ made up of former employees and concerned citizens.

The grassroots organization called for Siloam’s then-CEO Jim Bell to resign, saying he was a barrier to the inclusion of Indigenous traditions and cultural practices in Siloam Mission services.

By February, Bell had resigned and Siloam Mission commissioned the competency evaluation. That report recommended hiring an Indigenous relations director, looking for more Indigenous representation on its board of directors, and to fulfill commitments as part of Winnipeg’s Indigenous Accord and as part of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s calls to action.

Blaikie Whitecloud said the new commitment was made not only to hold the organization accountable to recommendations made in the Laborero Report, but also to ensure a path forward.

“You can’t have reconciliation without truth, and the truth is that there have been moments in the past where Siloam Mission has failed to come alongside Indigenous peoples as an ally, or failed to recognize and then respond by providing appropriate services to the colonial impacts that Indigenous people are experiencing today,” Blaikie Whitecloud said.

The organization says it will update its commitment to truth and reconciliation on an annual basis.

The full commitment can be read on Siloam Mission’s website.

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