During Grey Cup week, Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation Gimaa (Chief) R. Stacey Laforme says he was fielding angry phone calls from his community members.
"They call me and they go, 'Chief, other nations are all over the Grey Cup being recognized. Where are we?" he said in a phone interview.
"We work so hard to get our name out there so people understand our treaties and our territory and then all of a sudden, on one of Canada's biggest stages, we're ignored and that stings a little."
The Canadian Football League (CFL) trophy arrived in Hamilton's Bayfront Park last week ahead of the championship game between the Hamilton Tiger-Cats and the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.
During the cup's arrival at Bayfront Park, there was a land acknowledgement — but it didn't include Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation. Hamilton sits on their traditional territory per the Between the Lakes Treaty of 1792 between the Crown and the Mississaugas.
The discussion around meaningful Indigenous consultation when it comes to land has become more prominent across Canada in recent years, especially given a national spotlight on Indigenous truth and reconciliation this year after discoveries of unmarked graves at former residential school sites.
Laforme said he reached out to the Ticats on Monday to sort out the issue.
"During our discussion, they agreed they made a mistake and they didn't understand the history," he said.
Laforme said he suggested the Ticats and Mississaugas do a joint statement that would acknowledge the error, apologize for doing so, and commit to doing better. Laforme was told the Ticats were on board.
The next day "higher ups" said they were happy to work with the Mississaugas and learn more about them — but they wouldn't issue a public statement.
"I appreciate they want to work with us, but my personal opinion is you made a mistake, you know it's a mistake ... in the interest of honour, integrity and reconciliation, you should admit it," he said.
"I really did feel there should be a little more."
In response, the Mississaugas issued a public statement on Wednesday.
Ticats hold meeting, form committee amid questions
On Thursday, CBC Hamilton contacted the CFL and the Ticats.
The CFL said it couldn't comment on behalf of the Ticats.
The Ticats received multiple requests for comment Thursday, but the organization declined to comment publicly.
Instead, the Ticats deferred to Haudenosaunee Confederacy Chiefs Council secretary Leroy Hill and Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation communication director Georgia Laforme.
"That's very confusing. We're past the stage of passing the buck ... that's just very surprising to me," said the Mississaugas gimaa.
Hours after the requests for comment, Georgia Laforme confirmed the Ticats created a committee with Six Nations of the Grand River and the Mississaugas to ensure no community is forgotten moving forward.
"We had a positive meeting today," she said on Thursday.
Six Nations of the Grand River didn't immediately respond to an interview request.
Without the treaty relationship you wouldn't be able to settle on these lands. - Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation Gimaa R. Stacey Laforme
Stacey Laforme said while the Grey Cup was a missed opportunity to have all local Indigenous communities unite on a national stage, some municipalities are also lagging behind when it comes to working with First Nations.
But he also noted good work being done by a few, including Caledon, Oakville, Mississauga, Toronto and Niagara Falls.
"This is about people being proud of their history ... we're still here, don't forget about us. Without us, you wouldn't be here because without the treaty relationship you wouldn't be able to settle on these lands," he said.
"In this time of reconciliation ... mistakes like this should be few and far between."