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Sidney creates fund for Indigenous initiatives and events

The annual budget is $10,000
The Star Child Drum Group played at the 2022 South Island Powwow. (Black Press Media file photo)

Sidney council has unanimously resolved to create an annual budget of $10,000 for Indigenous initiatives and events.

This was decided at the regular council meeting Monday (July 17) and will kick off in 2024.

“This is so that in the future when we get requests about opportunities to support initiates undertaken by First Nations, we do have a fund in place to consider those opportunities,” Sidney Mayor Cliff McNeil-Smith said.

Council acknowledged that these help preserve Indigenous cultures and support reconciliation.

“In discussions with the leadership from the WSANEC Leadership Council, the WSANEC First Nations undertake several important initiatives,” McNeil-Smith said. “One example is a local powwow on the Tsartlip First Nation. It has been run by one of the families on the reserve for many years.”

Council also approved an additional $5,000 for the 2023 South Island Powwow, organized by the Songhees Nation at Royal Athletic Park on Sept. 30, in recognition of the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation.

“In terms of 2023, it’s our understanding that there isn’t an opportunity for the three municipalities on the Saanich Peninsula to have a (National Day for Truth and Reconciliation) event with the First Nations on the peninsula,” McNeil-Smith said.

The City of Victoria has allocated a contribution of up to $50,000, plus in-kind contributions.

Sidney council previously contributed $5,000 to the 2022 South Island Powwow.

“By all accounts, the event was an enormous success,” McNeil-Smith said.

More than 10,000 people attended the event, which included dancing, drumming, teachings, food and art.

“I think this is a great idea,” Coun. Richard Novek said. “I’ve been to powwows many times over the years. They are great fun. It’s a great way to get to know and understand a little bit about the Indigenous culture in the area. I’m very supportive of it. I think this is a great idea.”

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