OLDS — Mayor Mike Muzychka says two tragic events that occurred in the country in the past few weeks underline “the responsibility we all have to combat racism and other forms of discrimination in our communities across the nation.”
Muzychka was referring to the discovery of the bodies of 215 children at the site of a former Indian Residential School in Kamloops, B.C. and the murder of a Muslim family in in London, Ont.
In late May, representatives of the Tk'emlúps te Secwépemc First Nation announced that those bodies had been found at the residential school using ground penetrating radar.
Muzychka described that discovery as a “heart-breaking event.”
“Our hearts go out to the survivors, families and communities impacted by this situation and the dark legacy of residential schools across our country and right here in our own province,” he said, reading from a prepared statement at the beginning of town council’s June 14 meeting.
Police say in a hate crime, on June 6, Nathaniel Veltman, 20, deliberately steered his truck into a Muslim family out for a walk London, Ont., killing four of them -- a grandmother, mother, father and their teenage daughter -- ranging in age from 74 to 15. A nine-year old boy, also a member of that family, was hospitalized.
A funeral for the family was held last weekend and on June 14, it was announced that Veltman was not only charged with first-degree murder and attempted murder but also terrorism in relation to the incident.
“This was a racially motivated, targeted attack on members of the Muslim community,” Muzychka said.
“We recognize that our community too has a lot of work (to do) to ensure that all residents and visitors enjoy the sense of belonging, feeling safe and being who they are and can honestly say Olds, Alberta is a town where diversity is celebrated and adds to the social and economic vibrance of our community,” he added.
Muzychka noted that on May 25, town council endorsed a declaration to join the Canadian Coalition of Inclusive Municipalities “as a commitment to fostering a welcoming and inclusive community.”
"We look forward to sharing more about what that will look like and entail for our community in the coming weeks,” he said. “So it’s with a heavy heart that we recognize these two events.”