Truth And Reconciliation In Oakville

“Colonel Butler told us the Farmers would help us, but instead of doing so when we encamp on the land they drove us off and shoot our dogs and never give us any assistance as was promised to our old Chiefs.”Quinipeno, Chief at Bronte Creek, August 1, 1805

Oakville is on the treaty lands of the Mississaugas of the New Credit First Nation, part of the Anishinaabe Nation, whose traditional territory encompasses 3.9 million acres of southern Ontario. The Mississaugas “sold” their landholds at the mouths of sixteen and twelve mile (Bronte) creek around 1820 in favour of new housing near Hagersville. However, I have heard that long-time residents recall indigenous peoples fishing on Bronte Creek 50 years ago.

Last year the Foundation began the journey of what Truth and Reconciliation looks like in Oakville. It started with asking local indigenous community members what it looks like to them. Fortunately for me I had two very important guides along the way: a local Anishnaabe elder and, the Chair of Halton’s Indigenous Education Advisory Committee. I also benefitted from consulting with the Chief of the Mississaugas of the New Credit, Chief R. Stacey LaForme. With their guidance we brought together many other community partners, academics, elected officials, businesses and charitable organizations and worked on a number of projects which have begun to roll out:

1) Recognition of Oakville as “treaty lands” through banners, smudging ceremonies, and publicly at events.

2) Public recognition projects funded through the Community Fund for Canada’s 150th

3) Community Discussions on Truth and Reconciliation

The Oakville Community Foundation has become a signatory to the Call to Action by the Circle on Philanthropy and Aboriginal Peoples to continue the work of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC). We will be dedicating our boardroom in our new offices to the Mississaugas and are working with Chief R. Stacey LaForme on appropriate recognition.

Living the values of truth and reconciliation is not an easy process. Reconciliation can be a challenging topic but it needs to be undertaken with a view to the collective benefit for future generations. I encourage businesses, not-for-profits and other charitable organizations to begin to think about how they can embrace TRC at the time of Canada’s 150th year. As Justice Murray Sinclair, Chairman of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission stated so profoundly “Reconciliation is not an aboriginal problem – it involves us all.”

Originally published on LinkedIn