A proposed land acknowledgement statement to be introduced prior to Tay Township council meetings still needs some adjustments; that was the overall consensus by councillors at their recent regular meeting.
Following in the footsteps of other municipalities, Tay Township has been working on a land acknowledgement to be read before council and other special events. The goal, officials say, is to honour our Indigenous ancestors in the spirit of truth and reconciliation.
Coun. Mary Warnock startd the process with a notice of motion to council with the wording she felt was satisfactory for its importance.
“This was a document that I worked with Coun. (Jeff) Bumstead on for the wording,” Warnock explained, “and then he brought it forward to the Culture Alliance for their approval.”
Bumstead provided further explanation.
“I believe the recommendation is to have it at the start of meetings and maybe other events as well in Tay,” he noted.
“This was being worked on seriously (by Tay staff), but Culture Alliance came up with a territorial land acknowledgement recently at the request of a few communities, and Tiny is still working through theirs I believe; I was waiting to see where that would go before I brought it back to Tay. So I’m happy that Coun. Warnock brought that up. It’s something long overdue," said Bumstead.
“Just for clarification, I believe this version is a shorter version that was intended to be at the start of each council meeting,” Bumstead concluded.
While many on council commended Warnock for taking the initiative to bring the document forward to the meeting, the matter was handled carefully to award it the full respect it deserved.
Coun. Barry Norris spoke at length of his concerns, which were echoed by other council members.
“It’s way overdue. I believe... AMO had sent out some guidance as to how municipalities should be proceeding along on this,” Norris began. “Under the guidance of AMO, they were very particular in ensuring that we involved, in this particular case, the (Chippewa) Tri-Council.”
These consist of Beausoleil First Nation, Georgina Island First Nation and Rama First Nation.
Norris continued with the suggestion that the draft land acknowledgement be provided to Beausoleil First Nation as well as the township solicitor, “just to ensure that we’re not stepping on toes here.”
He said it's important to get it right.
“I think we, as a council, need to have some consultation so we’re fully aware of the land acknowledgement that we have come up with. I guess my concern is we’re suggesting two treaties in here; I’ll be honest with you, I don’t know what those treaties actually are,” Norris admitted. “We need to make sure, as a council, we are fully aware of that.”
His final concern involved the timing and value of importance when the land acknowledgement would be spoken, whether at council and special events, or deeper at the subcommittee levels.
Mayor Ted Walker and others on council thanked Warnock for her efforts, and it was decided that the draft would be sent out to be looked upon and properly handled.
The Culture Alliance had previously assisted other communities last year in crafting a statement to be read on Sept. 30, the National Day of Truth and Reconciliation known as Orange Shirt Day.
The draft territorial land acknowledgement can be found in the council agenda on the Township of Tay website.
Tay council meets for regular council meetings every fourth Wednesday of the month. Further information including council’s agenda can be found on the Tay township website.
Derek Howard, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, MidlandToday.ca