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City seeks to mediate human rights complaint by Indigenous former councillor

Settlement with Terrace’s first Indigenous councillor being negotiated
Jessica McCallum-Miller at the Longhouse at Coast Mountain College after winning the Governor General’s Award for diversity and inclusion. (Submitted photo to The Terrace Standard)

Terrace Mayor Sean Bujtas was surprised to learn that March 2 in-camera proceedings to discuss mediation of a human rights complaint filed by former city councillor Jessica McCallum-Miller, who resigned from her position in 2021 citing systemic racism, were made public on the city’s website on March 10.

McCallum-Miller, who was Terrace’s first and so far only Indigenous councillor, filed the complaint in 2022 with the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal — a specialized court that handles cases of discrimination and harassment based on gender, race, language and other such issues.

She expressed being driven into a depression by the way she was treated on council while advocating for Indigenous people, women and youth in the community.

READ MORE: Human rights complaint filed against mayor, councillor, City of Terrace

Bujtas said the document was made public unintentionally, adding that settlement discussions are moving forward. The city removed the document from its website after being contacted.

McCallum-Miller was just as surprised by the news as the mayor, she declined to comment due to the nature of the information released and to consult further steps with her lawyer, Barbara Findlay.

Speaking with The Terrace Standard in 2022 about her complaint against former Terrace Mayor Carol Leclerc and current Coun. James Cordeiro, McCallum-Miller said she had to make one of the hardest decisions of her life.

“It is my personal belief that systemic and internalized racism as well as sexism had played a role in the inability of my colleagues to respect and understand my personal and diverse perspectives.

“It has taken me almost an entire year to weigh this decision,” she said, adding, “I’m still incredibly hurt by what took place.”

READ MORE: Terrace’s 1st Indigenous councillor resigns citing ‘systemic and internalized racism’

Cordeiro declared conflict of interest and so was not in attendance at the March 2 meeting. In attendance from Lidstone & Company Law Corporation was Andrew Carricato, lawyer. Also present was Carol Leclerc.

In filing her complaint, McCallum-Miller said she was hoping for a resolution through a process of mediation, where wrongdoings are recognized and that First Nations people are respected at city council moving forward.

- With Terrace Standard files from Binny Paul

EDITOR’S NOTE: The in-camera document, which was available online for an estimated three hours on March 10, included the maximum amount that the city would agree to pay McCallum-Miller in a settlement.

In the interest of fairness to all involved, The Terrace Standard intends to publish that amount but only after the mediation has concluded.

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