“Systematic & Internalized Racism & Sexism” forces councilor to resign

Jessica McCallum-Miller wears a traditional cedar hat during a council meeting.

Jessica McCallum-Miller is a Gitxsan, Nisga’a and Tsimshian woman, and was the youngest and only First Nation councilor in history in the city of Terrace B.C.

She has recently resigned her role as councilor as of February 22, 2021 in a public statement on Facebook.

“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,” she said in her statement.

She was pushed to the point of resignation when she received skepticism over the need for localized cultural awareness training.

“I felt unheard, I felt spoken over, I questioned whether Truth and Reconciliation was being honoured or was a priority for our Community.”

McCallum-Miller shares in her statement that she suffers from anxiety and depression, and last year she had nearly attempted suicide due to stress and cultural insensitivity from her job on council.

“I can no longer endure the mental and spiritual hardships of explaining this and ultimately being unsupported by those I work with.”

The Mayor of Terrace B.C. Carol Leclerc responded in an interview, “it was really sad news to get that resignation.”

Leclerc confirmed there was disagreement on council about the focus of the cultural-awareness training but insisted the session is booked for March.

McCallum-Miller will continue to heal through her work as an Indigenous Artist, and continue to connect with the community through cultural practices and traditions.