On March 15, the local College of New Caledonia Campus (CNC) was filled or the signing of the Charter of Dignity, Respect and Acceptance.
“This building was just packed,” said Ann McCormick, campus supervisor at the local CNC.
The Charter, an initiative by the Organizing Against Racism and Hatred (OARH) group, was a written declaration of tolerance and mutual respect which community leaders and a broad cross-section of the community came to the campus to be a part of and sign.
It was a “really, really incredible, powerful day,” said Kathie Kealy, OARH coordinator.
She said the purpose of OARH is to help create understanding of cultural differences and so the Charter is the result of years of work towards this goal.
“We all want the same things, we all want what is best for our families … this is just the culmination of that,” said Kealy.
Nak’azdli Chief Fred Sam and Fort St. James Mayor Rob MacDougall both said a few words to open the signing event and used “very powerful words” according to Kealy to make an impact. She described the room as all sitting up and listening as the men spoke.
She later got quotes from the leaders, with Chief Fred Sam saying: “We need to stand together against hatred and racism; we need to be tolerant and have a strong respect for each others differences.”
Mayor Rob MacDougall said: “Racism has no place in society. Period.”
Tom Greenaway, Director of Fort St. James rural for the Regional District of Bulkley Nechako, said: “Accomplishments have no colour or race. Once you remove the unknown and outer layer we are all the same.”
Reverend Gwen Andrews said: “We are all individual pieces of the mosaic that is humanity, each one necessary to bring out its full beauty.”
Some of the people who signed the Charter were: representatives of the local churches, members of the East Indian community, Mayor Rob MacDougall, Chief Fred Sam, a representative from Tl’azt’en Nation, RCMP, Lillian Sam the CNC elder on campus, Chief Administrative Officer for the District of Fort St. James Kevin Crook, representatives of the Chamber of Commerce, employees of Nechako Valley Community Services, and Councillor Joan Burdeniuk, as well as others.
“Basically, a cross-section of the community,” said McCormick.
“It was really great, the number of people that came out and said ‘I want to be a part of this,’” said Kealy. “It was a pretty awesome moment.”
The full charter reads:
Communities of Fort St. James and Area
CHARTER OF DIGNITY, RESPECT & ACCEPTANCE
As a resident of the communities of Fort St. James and area:
I believe that all residents and visitors are worthy and are equally deserving of respect.
I can make a difference by the way in which I act towards others.
I can make a better world by showing others peaceful ways to live together.
I know that I affect others as a result of the ways that I think about and act towards them.
I promise that every day I will work to change my thoughts and actions so that they are
welcoming and inclusive of all residents and visitors to this community.
I will treat everyone I meet with dignity and
respect so that we may all work towards a peaceful and cooperative life together.
I commit to these principles by signing my name on this Charter of Dignity, Respect & Acceptance.