Saanich’s inaugural council meeting Monday has the makings of a historic event, and not just because five women will serve on council for the first time in the history of the municipality.
Christine Sam of the Songhees Nation will be opening inaugural proceedings by offering a First Nations blessing — also a historic first for Saanich. A First Nations delegation will also lead the evening’s opening procession featuring the Saanich Police and Fire Honour Guard, as well as representatives from the Canadian Armed Forces representing the full breadth of Canadian society.
Mayor-elect Fred Haynes said these elements symbolize the primacy of First Nations, as well as Saanich’s commitment to the findings of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Haynes said he pushed for these measures with the full support from the rest of council.
Following the opening procession and the First Nations Blessing, Rev. Shana Lynngood of the First Unitarian Church of Victoria, who serves as the church’s co-minister with her spouse Rev. Melora Lynngood, will deliver a multi-faith blessing, followed by a blessing from Pastor Gary Bennett of the Victoria Church of the Nazarene.
“It is historic on many levels, and reflects the diversity of Saanich in all its richness,” said Haynes.
Supreme Court of British Columbia Justice Robert D. Punnett will then swear in mayor-elect Haynes and the eight councillors.
Haynes said his inaugural address will offer the other members of council to address the public as well and reference the upcoming centennial of the end of the First World War on Nov. 11.
“I believe the election of nine independent, diverse members to council rests in good part upon the values expressed in this greatest of all sacrifice,” he said. “The election of this historic diversity on council provides, I believe a living expression of our recognition, respect and honour for the sacrifice paid by those many we shall be remembering on Nov. 11,” he added later.
Saanich voters elected Haynes mayor on Oct. 20 ahead of incumbent Richard Atwell, while also electing four new councillors: Nathalie Chambers, Rebecca Mersereau, Ned Taylor, and Zac de Vries.
Voters also returned all four incumbent candidates for councillor — Susan Brice, Judy Brownoff, Colin Plant, and Karen Harper — to council.