The mayor of Elbow, Sask., is apologizing for how he thought of indigenous people in the past and hoping to make it right.
Rob Hundeby was in Saskatoon Tuesday afternoon to sign a memorandum of understanding with Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations (FSIN) Chief Bobby Cameron.
The goal is to push Elbow and the indigenous community towards reconciliation.
“While I was growing up, the ideology of what an indigenous person represents – or the stereotypes – became very clear,” Hundeby said, noting examples of thinking of indigenous people as “lazy” and that “they don’t even want a job.”
“I was wrong,” he said.
Hundeby said the birth of his children and re-examining his Christian faith led to a shift in thinking.
“You can’t have hatred boil up,” he said. “You have to seek forgiveness, whether you’ve been wronged or you wronged somebody else.”
He asked Cameron and the FSIN for forgiveness and signed the agreement to help start a new education initiative in Elbow.
The chief commended Hundeby for making the apology.
“It takes a lot of heart, a lot of courage,” Cameron said.
He said Hundeby approached him after his speech about reconciliation to the Saskatchewan Urban Municipalities Association. After hearing the apology and desire to sign an agreement, Cameron encouraged the mayor to make the statement public.
“We must work together for a brighter future for our children,” Cameron said.
The memorandum involves an education campaign to help teach youth and elected officials about racial inclusion in Elbow.
While Elbow town council unanimously approved the signing, Hundeby doesn’t know how his constituents will react.
“I don’t know how this is going to be perceived,” he said. “It’s a leap of faith.”
Elbow is 133 kilometres southeast of Saskatoon.