Mayor explores Indigenous land acknowledgement
Clearview Township Mayor Doug Measures said he is working on a land acknowledgement to read before council meetings and he is welcoming input from the community.
He said he has been researching the appropriate land acknowledgement but has been struggling because the land that is now Clearview is not specified in any of the First Nations treaties other than the Williams Treaties of 1923 that includes all of Simcoe County. He acknowledged that the Petun who have a strong ancestral connection to this area are not part of any treaty.
“Council at this point has not been satisfied that we are in a position to speak a true land acknowledgement that honours the Indigenous people that once inhabited our community lands,” said Measures.
The statement was in response to a letter from Christopher Dodd asking what steps are being taken to develop a land acknowledgement and when it could be expected that one would be read at the beginning of all public meetings in the township?
Dodd said that the call for reconciliation has grown louder and more urgent with the tragic discovery of the remains of 215 children at the former Kamloops Indian Residential School.
“Land acknowledgements are deeply rooted in Indigenous culture. Giving thanks, respect, and honouring the land and ancestors is a common practice within Indigenous communities,” he writes.
“This custom has been revived for administrative and ceremonial meetings all over Ontario and right across Canada. Acknowledging a traditional territory shows recognition of – and respect for – Indigenous peoples, which is the first step down the path of reconciliation. It is a highly symbolic gesture without legal or political consequence. When an Indigenous land acknowledgement is heartfelt and real, municipal leaders, staff, and meeting members pause, reflect, and consider how to repair the damaged relationship between Canadians and Indigenous peoples and how to impact positive change. It sends a powerful message to our communities, and from our communities.”
Measures said he is working on it and he expects to bring something back to council at some point.
“It’s an interesting predicament that we, as a municipal government are in because we obviously want to do the right thing and recognize the ancestral heritage of these lands but we also don’t want to speak incorrectly and identify Indigenous groups and nations that are not part of this land. It is something that we need to do,” said Measures.
He thanked Dodd for bringing forth the question and welcomed anyone who could provide clarity on the creation of the land acknowledgment to get in touch.
The mayor can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or write to all of council at email@example.com.