Committee exodus continues as another quits in St. Catharines


Published September 16, 2022 at 11:21 am

That’s four out the door when it comes to St. Catharines committees.

Yesterday (September 15), Rin (Aandeg) Simon, an Indigenous member of the LGBTQ2S+ Advisory Committee, tendered his resignation, saying, “Due to the actions, or rather inactions, of the City Council, I am no longer able to serve this colonial system in good conscious.”

His words echo those of Liam Coward, who two days ago quit the LGBTQ2S+ Advisory Committee, as well as Vicki-Lynn Smith and Erica Williams, who had earlier quit the city’s Anti-Racism Advisory Committee.

Much like Coward, Simon took some larges shots across the bow at the present structure, which those leaving say play nicely into the optics of a city where all voices are heard but are, in fact, marginalized at the tables where they (no longer) sit.

Simon took an even harsher stand than Coward, who two days ago stated, “I have often felt that the way these committees are treated by some staff and councillors amounts to tokenism and hollow allyship.”

Colonialism was a central theme in Simon’s resignation as he said the city “has demonstrated itself to be nothing more than a system to serve and uphold ideals of white supremacy and cis-heteronormativity fueled by a Settler-Colonial and Capitalist methods of governance.”

Even more damning, he suggested the “2S,” (two spirit, meant to represent the Indigenous) be removed from the committee’s name.

“My reasoning being that without Two-Spirit representation on the committee, the body cannot claim to reflect the perspectives or needs of the Two-Spirit community.”

He further went on to say that the “2S” didn’t belong on the committee name since it was struck. “We are situated on Indigenous land that was stole through fraud, theft and coercion and Indigenous identities should always be put first to honour and respect our long-lasting relationship to (this) place.”

The three Indigenous nations who share claims on the Niagara Region lands are the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation, the Six Nations of the Grand River First Nation and the Haudenosaunee Confederacy.

Noted Simon, “The city has proven to be unfeeling and cold towards the concerns of Indigenous and racialized peoples, women, gender/sexually diverse peoples and the working class.”

While the feelings of the four who departed clearly run deeper, the initial issue was the Anti-Racism Advisory Committee asking the city to consider canceling the upcoming show of puppeteer Jeff Dunham at the Meridian Centre on November 20.

Initially, the Anti-Racism Advisory Committee has asked city council to shut down the performance that has faced criticism in the past for portraying characters that rely on racial stereotypes, including a dead terrorist named Achmed and a talking jalapeño on a stick named José, complete with sombrero.

The city, instead, will allow the show to go on as only Merritton Councillor Greg Miller, who serves on the committee and brought forward motion and St. Patricks councillor Karrie Porter voted against the show.

That said, it seems pretty certain that the feelings of the four who quit their committees feel far deeper issues with city council and staff than a night of ventriloquism.

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