Tay waiting on BFN input to adopt land acknowledgement

Departing Coun. Mary Warnock had one last bit of housekeeping to take care of before closing the door on her term in Tay Township, and it was to ensure that the municipal land acknowledgement was not swept aside with the council change.

At the recent regular meeting, Warnock brought forward a notice of motion which recalled awareness of a land acknowledgement she’d introduced at the August council meeting.

In that August meeting, council expressed support for adopting a land acknowledgement which could be read at formal occasions, but shared concerns to have such an important statement be looked over and endorsed fully by the communities it would represent.

The proposed territorial land acknowledgement read: “The Township of Tay recognizes that it is located on the traditional and territorial lands of the Anishinabek people, now known as the Chippewa Tri-Council of Beausoleil First Nation, Georgina Island First Nation and Rama First Nation.”

Warnock raised the issue again to have a land acknowledgement in the municipality’s next term of council, as she was unaware if there had been any updates regarding the matter.

“I just didn’t want this term to end without it being brought forward again,” said Warnock, “to see if council is happy with the acknowledgement or if they want to wait to hear if there’s any further discussion to be had about the one we had written.

“It’ll probably be up to the next council to decide when and how often you want to use it. I think it’s a small and simple step we can do towards reconciliation and we need to acknowledge where we sit,” she added.

Members of council expressed similar concerns to the previous meeting over getting the proper wording.

Mayor Ted Walker shared an update he had heard elsewhere.

“You may be aware that Penetanguishene has also sent off a sample statement to the Beausoleil First Nations. In talking to the mayor last week, he was advised by the BFN that they have referred it to their legal people for review.

“We’re hoping to hear back soon on this,” Walker added.

Having looked at the acknowledgement, Walker also noted how well-crafted the last sentence was as he read it aloud.

“‘Tay Township is proud to be home to a diverse community of many Indigenous peoples’ – I like that,” he interjected. “‘We all share the responsibility to be caretakers and stewards of these lands and waters, and promise to ensure their health and integrity, for future generations.’ I think that’s a real nice touch.”

He mused altering the current shortened land acknowledgement used at municipal events to include that sentence, greatly impressed with its additional value.

Council remained supportive of the land acknowledgement but looked forward to a full recommendation once input had been received by the Beausoleil First Nations subject to changes made for the proposed wording.

The proposed 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