Winnipeg city councillor wants donations through property taxes for reconciliation

Before committee meetings begin at Winnipeg City Hall, there is a land acknowledgement that states Winnipeg is located on the Treaty 1 Territory and the traditional homeland of the Métis Nation.

Now a city Councillor wants to turn these words into dollars.

“I think at the municipal level and at the community level we all have a role to play,” said Coun. Shawn Nason. “I think this is just another opportunity to look at something slightly different and try to find a way forward.”

Nason has a motion to create a reconciliation fund. His plan would see taxpayers make voluntary donations through their property tax payments as a way to help reconciliation efforts with Indigenous communities.

“It could be housing, it could be as simple as some of our place naming and signage,” Nason got the idea from Victoria Council, which recently approved a similar proposal.

“It’s important in an era of reconciliation to actually do something, not just to say words that we acknowledge these territories,” said Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps.

At tax time, Victoria residents and businesses will be encouraged to donate five or ten per cent in addition to their tax bill, or any amount they see fit. The money there is earmarked for the Songhees and Esquimalt Nations.

“The two nations were literally pushed out to the fringes of the city so we could settle here and so we’ll, first of all, explain what a reconciliation contribution is,” said Helps.

With the awareness now around the history of residential schools, Treaty 1 spokesperson Dennis Meeches said the proposal is exciting and has merit.

“I think people would definitely embrace that here in the city because just knowing what’s happened in recent years,” said Meeches.

On where and how money collected would be spent, Nason says that would be decided through consultations with the Indigenous community.

Nason’s motion is on the East Kildonan-Transcona Community Committee agenda for Monday. He is asking for a report on this from city staff in six months. 

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