Calgary mayor asks people not to call her ‘your worship’

Jyoti Gondek speaks to the media after being sworn-in as the new mayor of Calgary in Calgary, Alta., Monday, Oct. 25, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh. JMC

Calgary Mayor Jyoti Gondek asked people not to call her “your worship” on Tuesday, breaking a tradition that is more than 100 years old.

While it’s traditional to refer to the mayor as “your worship,” Gondek said the term is clunky and colonial.

“The worship title at this point is not something that I need from any of you,” Gondek said at the beginning of Tuesday’s combined meeting of council.

“I would greatly appreciate it if members of council, administration and members of the public just call me Mayor Gondek.”

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It is unclear when the term was first coined in Calgary. The term has roots in British history, where “worship” implies that citizens attribute special worth or esteem to their first citizen or mayor.

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“It really does have British colonial roots and at a time when we’re struggling on how to take action with reconciliation, this is my tiny little part,” Gondek said at a scrum on Tuesday afternoon.

The term, however, is not mandated by law nor the city’s policies and procedures. There is nothing in the City of Calgary’s procedure bylaw that says the mayor must be referred to as “your worship.”

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“The use of the term is rooted in Canadian standards and that’s something passed down by the federal government. It’s not mandatory in any way,” Gondek said.

“It just feels weird… It just feels so high and mighty and I don’t particularly care for it.”

Gondek is not the first mayor in Canada to scrap the term. Regina Mayor Sandra Masters made a similar request when she was first elected in 2020.

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