Advertisement

‘It keeps expanding’: Muskoka approves MAILT’s next stage for reconciliation

From supporting Indigenous hunting to establishing environmental best practices, this is how the District of Muskoka wants to strengthen relations with Indigenous communities in the region.

HERE IS WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

At the last finance and corporate services meeting on Wednesday, Feb. 21, the committee endorsed the Muskoka Area Indigenous Leadership Table’s (MAILT) next stage to support Indigenous communities in the region.

“In August 2021, (district) council approved the MAILT Strategy 2.0. Since then, staff have addressed the actions outlined and developed a new set of actions to take the MAILT through 2024 and into 2025,” the report presented to the council reads. “Members of the MAILT approved this proposed set of actions, known as the MAILT Strategy 3.0, at their Dec. 1, 2023 meeting.”

According to the report, the 3.0 strategy consists of three main actions:

1. Establish environmental stewardship best practices for sustainable development in Muskoka;

2. Support Indigenous hunting, fishing and harvesting rights in Muskoka; and

3. Establish a guide to Indigenous engagement and consultation in Muskoka.

“In addition to those three projects, the council has already committed to conducting a road and place name audit in 2024. But it’s important to note that this is just the fact-finding part of the exercise,” said project manager Tina Kilbourne.

“Although there’s no current commitment to renaming future roads or place names, it gives us a good idea of what the community sees as issues, gathers data, puts together a work plan, and then comes back for more guidance.”

The report highlights that the MAILT 2.0 strategy has made progress in reconciliation with and support of Indigenous communities, such as providing Indigenous awareness training to approximately 1,100 people and renaming Muskoka Road 38 to Kanien’Kehá:ka Iohatátie, which means Mohawk People Road.

“I think the Muskoka Area Indigenous Leadership Table has been a wonderful experience over the last five years now,” said Coun. Peter Koetsier. “It keeps expanding or going on to new projects. It’s been astounding what has been learned.”

MAILT minutes are publicly accessible on the district's website.

Julian Orlando Chaves, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Huntsville Forester