Drafting a Resolution for a Truth and Healing Commission or Working Group
Resolutions are used by legislative bodies, such as city councils, to bring forth the main motion and provide additional details and directions stating the proposed policy, advocacy position, or action to be taken. The sample resolution included below is intended to provide guidance on the various parts of a resolution and what should generally be included in those parts. It incorporates language from the resolution establishing a truth a reconciliation process for the City of Minneapolis, Minnesota that was adopted on October 16, 2020, to illustrate and elements that should be included in a resolution to establish a truth and reconciliation/healing process or commission for your community.
Resolutions should be clear and complete, addressing the specific topic or issue using concise and direct language and presenting an affirmative action to be taken. They should be written so that laypeople can understand them and include definitions of any terms or phrases that may be included that require further explanation. They should also include a timeline for the action to be taken that is called for in the resolution.
Please note that some localities may use a different form for the creation of a commission or working group, such as an ordinance. The proper form to be used will be dependent upon the laws and rules of that locality. You should consult your local rules of government for the appropriate method to address the creation of a working group or commission in your area.
The “Whereas” Section
The “Whereas” section of a resolution explains the “why” for the action being taken. It often includes historical data and information about why the matter is important, as well as sets the tone for the statement to be made.
The “Resolved” Section
The statements in the “Resolved” section of a resolution are those that detail the action to be taken. They should answer the who, what, when, where, why, and how questions related to the creation and execution of the working group or commission being formed. The statements should be detailed, yet clear and concise and positively state the actions to be taken. The specific elements that should be addressed in these sections when drafting your resolution include the activities of the commission or working group, the structure and organization of it, the appointment process, and the goals and outputs/deliverables.
A clear and compelling vision for the commission should be set forth clearly in the activities to be undertaken by the commission or group in the process. What will be the focus of the commission? What are the objectives of the process? How will the group receive information on best practices? How broad or narrow is the focus of the group? These are a few of the questions that should be answered when developing the statements regarding the commission activities.
Structure and Organization of the Commission and Appointment Process
The resolution should promote opportunities for active participation and leadership at each level of the community and facilitate local ownership of the process. Who are the current stakeholders and partners that should be a part of this process? Who are the individuals and institutions that will support the work? How will these parties be selected to participate? A wide range of perspectives and experiences is a critical asset to ensure that all perspectives are included in the process.
The goals of the group should be ambitious but achievable, as well as measurable. There should be short-, mid-, and long-range goals. It will take a great amount of time and effort to dismantle and reorganize long-standing systems. The work cannot be done overnight, so ensuring that there are benchmarks of progress along the way will be beneficial to sustaining the momentum of the group and setting a solid foundation for the next steps to be taken. The strategies undertaken by the group should relate to its goals.
Outputs and Deliverables
The charge should be to present a set of policy recommendations to address the issues under examination. How will the group report on the work that has been done? What is the timeline to produce that work?
ESTABLISHING A TRUTH AND RECONCILIATION PROCESS
WHEREAS, the Indigenous nations who resided on this land prior to the arrival of European settlers have experienced a history of broken promises, violence, deprivation, and disease;
WHEREAS, the City of Doe recognizes that Africans were forcibly brought to this country, enslaved and that the social construction of race was used to justify their enslavement as well as the removal of Indigenous nations off their land;
WHEREAS, 38 Indigenous men were hanged on January 1, 1863, in Littleton, This-State in the largest one-day mass execution in American history;
WHEREAS, the City of Doe recognizes the annexation of indigenous homelands for the building of our city, and knows Indigenous nations have lived upon this land since time immemorial and the land itself carries this historical trauma;
WHEREAS, the Indigenous people were driven off this land at the hands of our State and Federal government, with Governor John Brown declaring that the Indigenous people “must be exterminated or driven forever beyond the borders of the State”;
WHEREAS, after the Emancipation of Slavery, This-State continued to mistreat African Americans living in the state through exclusionary practices including terrorizing and lynching African Americans; redlining and destroying African American communities and businesses; moving jobs away from the central cities with the build-out of the freeway system; mass incarceration; and disinvestments in public education;
WHEREAS, Black people who lived outside of redlined areas experienced terror and harm from white residents;
WHEREAS, the City of Doe destroyed a vibrant Black neighborhood in the construction of I-10;
WHEREAS, Indigenous people did not begin returning to this land until they were forced from reservations in the 1950s;
WHEREAS, racism against African Americans and Indigenous Americans has various forms including historical, individual, internalized, interpersonal, institutional, systemic, and structural that has not only continued to this day but has transformed to ensure the concentration of material, power, and resources in the hands of white-bodied individuals;
WHEREAS, This-State and the City of Doe have some of the most severe racial inequities in the country;
WHEREAS, While African Americans only constitute 7% of the statewide population and Indigenous Americans constitute 1% of the population, they make up 35% and 10% respectively of the incarcerated population;
WHEREAS, African American (40%) and Indigenous American (35%) adults are overrepresented in the state’s homeless population;
WHEREAS, the statewide average for the attainment of a bachelor’s degree is 52% while the African American rate is 30% and Indigenous American rate is 20%;
WHEREAS, 32% of all This-State communities are above risk guidelines for air quality but a disproportionate 91% of all communities of color and indigenous communities are above risk guidelines;
WHEREAS, the This-State median household income is $68,000 for White families while African American families have a median household income of only $30,000;
WHEREAS, African Americans in the City of Doe experience unemployment at three times that of white residents;
WHEREAS, the City of Doe has the largest homeownership disparity between white and African American families; 76% of white families own their homes, while the homeownership rate of African American families is 25%;
WHEREAS, in the City of Doe, African American and Indigenous Americans are three times more likely to live below the poverty line than white residents;
WHEREAS, the City of Doe recognizes August 20, 2019, as the 400-year Commemoration of Resistance and Liberation of African Americans in the City of Doe; and
WHEREAS, the City of Doe declared racism as a public health emergency.
Now, Therefore, Be it Resolved
by The City Council of the City of Doe:
Section 1. A working group is hereby established that will be tasked with exploring the creation of a Truth and Reconciliation process and that this group will study the meaning of reconciliation, research different models of truth and reconciliation commissions, and understand the impact that such a process might have on the City of Doe and its residents. The ultimate objective of the reconciliation and transformational racial healing process is to name and address the harms that have perpetuated racial disparities by implementing specific solutions with a prioritized focus on healing with historically Black American descendants of slavery and Indigenous American communities, recognizing that the issues of anti-Blackness and Native sovereignty continue to perpetrate harm against all groups.
Section 2. The Division of Race & Equity is directed to lead an enterprise-wide effort, in collaboration with the Mayor’s Office, City Council, Civil Rights Department, City Coordinator’s Office, City Attorney’s Office, City Clerk, and other departments to explore the formation of a truth and reconciliation process for the City of Doe, specifically by:
- Consulting with local and national truth and reconciliation experts, those skilled in conflict resolution, and other key stakeholders to:
- Understand the meaning of reconciliation;
- Research different models of truth and reconciliation commissions; and
- Understand the impact of a truth and reconciliation process on the City of Doe.
- Developing the organizational capacity and framework required for a City-led truth and reconciliation process. Activities include, but are not limited to:
- Secure a consultant to facilitate initial phases of the truth and reconciliation process;
- Develop shared goals and desired outcomes for a truth and reconciliation process;
- Determine scope for the focus of the process;
- Ensure alignment between the truth and reconciliation process and other related City processes;
- Determine proposed near, mid, and long-term actionable steps the City can take that contribute towards achieving the goals and objectives with tentative timeline, costs, and other factors necessary for implementation; and
- Develop a capacity-building framework to deepen internal and external understanding related to the truth and reconciliation process.
- Recommending an approach for establishing a truth and reconciliation commission, including:
- Identify key participants including government, community-based, staff, and elected policymakers;
- Recommend success measures and metrics by which the effort will be evaluated; and
- Propose a timeline by which the truth & reconciliation commission will be seated and launched.
- Providing a report back on the proposed truth and reconciliation process and commission framework at the first Policy & Government Oversight Committee meeting in January 2021.