Central Elgin councillors agree that they should acknowledge traditional lands of Indigenous peoples within the municipality, but not how often.
Human Resources Manager Anouschka Van den Bosch, in a report to councillors, said the federal Truth and Reconciliation Commission urged governments of all levels to further the goal of reconciliation with Indigenous peoples.
Association of Municipalities of Ontario had suggested acknowledging the traditional lands in a statement of some sort.
She suggested including the Haudenosauneega Confederacy, Attiwonderonk (Neutral) Confederacy and the Mississauga Nation in a statement to be made on all council agendas or at the start of the inaugural session of council each term, and adding a statement to the municipality’s website.
Councillor Bill Fehr said he could support such a statement, “but I don’t know about before every single meeting.”
The statement could lose its meaning if repeated over and over, he worried. He suggested putting it on the website, and reciting it at the start of each new council term.
But Cr. Fiona Wynn disagreed. “I like the idea of it being said at every meeting because I think we need to get to that point and be aware of where we are.”
Cr. Colleen Row admitted, “I had an opinion, and then I keep changing it.”
She agreed it should be on the website and recited at the inaugural meeting of each council term, and asked if it should be stated somewhere in Central Elgin’s official plan, which was currently being updated.
That plan designated how different lands within the municipality should be used, she pointed out.
The acknowledgement could also be printed on every council agenda, but she didn’t think it should be recited every meeting, or it might lose its significance through sheer repetition.
Deputy Mayor Tom Marks recommended reciting the statement at each regular council meeting each month, but not at other meetings. He believed that would be the course followed by many municipalities.
Central Elgin Administrator Paul Shipway said staff would try to devise a bylaw the met everyone’s issues, by requiring the acknowledgement to be printed on the agenda for each regular meeting and leaving up to the mayor or chairman to recite or not, except at an inaugural meeting when it would be recited.
Rob Perry, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Aylmer Express