FORT MCMURRAY – The Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo’s Integrity Commissioner will be reviewing comments made by Councillor Shafiq Dogar.
Comments made during budget talks this week have sparked calls for Dogar’s resignation.
RMWB Council held a special meeting on Friday and moved to submit a complaint to Integrity Commissioner James S. Peacock to investigate Dogar’s alleged breach of the municipality’s Code of Conduct.
According to a press release from the RMWB, the following are sections that may have been breached:
- 8.2. Members shall treat one another, the employees of the Municipality and members of the public with courtesy, dignity and respect and without abuse, bullying or intimidation.
- 8.4. Members shall not use indecent, abusive, or insulting language in any interaction with fellow Members, Administration or any member of the public.
- 8.5. No Member shall speak in a manner that is discriminatory or in any way harass any individual based on the person’s race, religious beliefs, colour, gender, physical disability, mental disability, age, ancestry, place of origin, marital status, source of income, family status or sexual orientation.
“I am deeply committed to doing everything in my power as a Mayor alongside my Council colleagues to take action and fully support Indigenous Peoples and communities in light of these devastating, hateful and divisive comments,” stated Mayor Sandy Bowman.
“Collectively, all of us have publicly asked Councillor Dogar to resign immediately, but regrettably he has chosen to not do so. I do not stand for what took place and it is not something that should ever happen in our Council chamber or anywhere in the region. On behalf of Council, the Municipality, and all residents, I again express my deepest apologies to Indigenous Peoples for the impact of these incredibly hurtful words and comments and reiterate Council’s commitment to further Indigenous cultural awareness and sensitivity training. We will continue to heal and work towards Truth and Reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples in the region – which we all need to remember is Treaty 8 and unceded Métis territory.”
The following is a statement from RMWB Chief Administrative Officer Jamie Doyle:
“On behalf of the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo, I echo Mayor Bowman’s words in his statement from Thursday, Feb. 3, 2022 – Indigenous Peoples deserve better. As the CAO of the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo, I am sorry these hateful and insensitive actions took place in the Municipality’s Council Chambers during a budget meeting. This is no place for such language or behaviour.”
“We stand with First Nation Chiefs, Métis Presidents, Athabasca Tribal Council, and all Indigenous Peoples to say that this type of behaviour cannot and will not be tolerated. I reaffirm that as an organization, we will continue to take action to do better.”
“Our organization works tirelessly to foster positive relationships with rural and Indigenous communities and partners. The comments that were made during the Indigenous and Rural Relations (IRR) Department budget presentation on Feb. 3, 2022, only serve to harm these relationships and the Indigenous community as a whole. IRR Director Dennis Fraser and his staff have worked very hard to ensure Reconciliation is a priority for our organization, and he has my full support. The comments made only undermine the professional and ethical reputation of the department and the overall organization. These comments are disrespectful, undignified and racist. This behaviour is not aligned with the Council Code of Conduct, or values that we uphold as an organization.”
“In June 2020, our organization introduced the Indigenous Awareness eLearning modules as mandatory training for all new and existing municipal employees. These eLearning modules have also been made available as a free resource for the public to take. As an organization, we will continue to explore additional learning opportunities that ensure a respectful and inclusive workplace and I personally commit to making meaningful cultural awareness and sensitivity training available to all of Council. I will continue to lean on the Indigenous and Rural Relations department to champion many of our ongoing initiatives to increase cultural awareness and advance reconciliation in Wood Buffalo.”
“We all have a responsibility to educate ourselves to understand the true history of the region and the country. This history, which includes the residential school system, has greatly contributed to these racist beliefs that are still far too common. We must not forget that racism is a form of violence that seeks to undermine, minimize, and diminish Indigenous Peoples and their inherent human rights. It’s the reason that Indigenous women, girls and 2SLGBTQQIA+ people are 12 times more likely to be murdered or missing than non-Indigenous women, a number that is even higher for women in the north. I am deeply saddened and disappointed at what has transpired, but remain hopeful that with sustained action and commitment, we will move truth and reconciliation forward.”