Indigenous Culture & Community

Information about efforts being made in Oakville to honour Indigenous culture and community.

Honouring Indigenous Culture & History

Treaty lands

Oakville is on the treaty lands and territory of the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation.

On February 28, 2022, the Town of Oakville honoured the 202nd anniversary of the signing of Treaty 22 at the Oakville Museum’s Erchless Estate.

Oakville permanently flies the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation flag at Town Hall to acknowledge and thank the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation for being stewards of this traditional territory. 

Land acknowledgement

A land acknowledgement is a formal statement to recognize the relationship between Indigenous peoples and their traditional territories. 

  • Visit our Land Acknowledgement page to find an official statement that can be used to open public meetings and events in Oakville.

Orange Shirt Day honours Indigenous children and families affected by Canada's residential schools. 

As part of Oakville's Orange Shirt Day display in 2023, installations were set up at community centres across town to demonstrate our commitment to awareness and reconciliation.

Residents and community members were invited to visit a community centre to pick up an orange paper shirt or print off an Orange Shirt template (pdf) at home and share their message about Orange Shirt Day's importance, the value of every child, or a message of hope and reconciliation. The paper shirts were then attached to a temporary display.

The Orange Shirt Day installations were on display until October 15, 2023.

The Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation and the Oakville Community Foundation (OCF) launched Debwewin - the Oakville Truth Project in October 2021. The project aims to further the community’s shared understanding of Oakville’s Indigenous past and support local truth and reconciliation. Debwewin refers to one of the Anishinabek seven grandfathers' teaching for truth. 

The project raises questions about Oakville’s truth such as: 

  • What happened to the local Treaty holders, the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation? 
  • Why did Treaty 22 which includes coverage of Oakville main waterways, Sixteen Mile and Bronte Creek leave the Mississaugas homeless?

Learn more about Debwewin - The Oakville Truth Project.

The Moccasin Trails feature a series of 13 plaques containing Indigenous stories, verses and information relating to the land, water and sky, giving visitors a deeper understanding of Indigenous heritage. The content for the information booth and plaques was developed in partnership with the Mississaugas of the New Credit First Nation and Indigenous community members.

  • The kiosk is located near Rebecca Street and Mississaga Street on the Bronte Creek Heritage Trail. 
  • The two Moccasin Trails are located along the Bronte Creek Heritage Trail and the Inner Valley Trail portion of the Sixteen Mile Creek Trail.

The trail projects honouring Oakville’s Indigenous heritage received funding from Oakville Community Foundation’s Community Fund for Canada’s 150.

Visit the Heritage Trails page for more information.

Visit Tannery Park and explore the Moccasin Identifier installation and outdoor classroom gathering circle. The installation and outdoor gathering circle were built to promote public awareness of the significant cultural historic sites and the ancestral presence of First Nations, Métis and Indigenous Communities.

Walk along the park’s path and read the “Rooted in the Land” history wall, which was created in consultation with the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation.

At Town Hall, the flag of the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation is permanently flown alongside the national, provincial and municipal flags. 

Town Hall also features Canoe Garden, a special ArtHouse partnership with Halton Environment Network. Kayanase Greenhouses on Six Nations and the Town of Oakville’s greenhouse understood the importance of using plants Indigenous to the area. The garden includes pollinator plants and is registered on the Butterflyway to ensure a healthy habitat for butterflies and other pollinators.

Five meeting rooms at Town Hall have been renamed to honour the Indigenous land and territory where Oakville resides. It was important for the renaming of each room to embrace a meaningful connection to Indigenous language and the names were chosen through consultation with local Indigenous community members and education advisors. Town staff engaged Indigenous education advisors from the Halton Catholic District School Board (HCDSB), Jody Harbour and Sherry Saevil, on the project. Together with the town, HCDSB and Grandmothers Voice led the project. Two Grandmothers were invited to participate in the process: Grandmother Renee Thomas-Hill of the Six Nations of the Grand River Territory First Nations and EdebwedOgichidaa - Valarie King of the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nations. Derek Sandy, the Faith Keeper within the longhouse from Six Nations also provided assistance.

  1. Meeting Room A is renamed Gawhedena (gaw han dee nay). 
    Gawhedena, meaning 'head of the field', is the Indigenous name of Emily C. General, a Mohawk/Cayuga member of the Six Nations of the Grand River Territory reserve. She was President of the Indian Defense League of America, and is known for standing up to the RCMP’s forced removal of 21 children from the community to be placed in residential schools. A leader in her community, she guided her them to return to their original instructions of living.
  2. Quiet Room will also be called Nbii (ni beh). 
    Nbii is an Ojibwe (Anishinaabe) word meaning 'sacred flowing water.' In the teachings of the Ojibwe people, Nbii is the responsibility of the women to take care of. It is the water that runs through the veins of Mother Earth, as she is the giver and nurturance of all of creation. Women are sacred as they are life givers resembling Mother Earth as she is the same: a mother's love.
  3. Meeting Room E is renamed Deskaheh (day sga hey). 
    Deskaheh means 'not sitting on it any longer.' It is the Indigenous name of Levi General, a Haudenosaunee hereditary Chief appointed by the traditional people. He is most known for presenting Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) concerns before the League of Nations in the 1920s. His persistent and courageous efforts to bring justice for the Haudenosaunee people was the first step in an ongoing quest that reached a benchmark almost 85 years later when the U.N. General Assembly adopted the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
  4. Meeting Room F is renamed Mtiikoog (mitt e goog). 
    Mtiikoog, meaning 'many trees that stand and intertwine like community and work together' is an Ojibwe (Anishinaabe) word. Every tree is unique; shaped and marked differently. Every tree has a purpose such as a craft, medicine, or food. This can be compared to a community of people that come together, work together and plan together.
  5. Wedding Ceremony Room is renamed G`an-hkwase (gnaw kwa say).
    G`an-hkwase means 'a new marriage' in the Cayuga language.

This project responds to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Call to Action #14.1.

Throughout June 2021, permanent plaques featuring a land acknowledgement were installed in prominent areas at Town Hall and all our community centres. These plaques acknowledge the appreciation and gratitude we carry for the enduring presence and deep traditional knowledge, laws and philosophies of the Indigenous people with whom Oakville shares this land today. This is in addition to the plaque that was introduced at the Oakville Museum in 2020.

The establishment of land acknowledgement plaques in facilities responds to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Call to Action #57.

A beautiful garden has been planted at Iroquois Ridge Community Centre, honouring the One Dish covenant. It is in the spirit and intent of the One Dish covenant that all people collectively care for and respect the land, water, animals and each other in the interests of peace and friendship, for the benefit of not only ourselves but also our future descendants.

The One Dish garden was guided by Grandmother's Voice with design by Miinikaan ('the seed' in Ojibwe), Indigenous consultants and allies whose gardens invite curiosity and demonstrate Indigenous agroecology teachings. By working with an Indigenous-led garden team, we ensure sustainably sourced seeds and plants are used.

The plant combinations in this garden have been specifically chosen because they provide a habitat for bees and butterflies as they move and migrate. The Indigenous names of each plant are highlighted on the garden signage to increase awareness. The town acknowledges Grandmother’s Voice and Dr. T’hohahoken Mike Doxtator, Associate Professor at Toronto Metropolitan University, for their guidance and support on this project. 

The One Dish garden responds to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Call to Action #14.

Planting Our Seeds with Grandmother's Voice

The Town of Oakville sought guidance from local Indigenous leaders, including Grandmother's Voice, to learn more about this lands treaty history and celebrate the active agreements these treaties seek to protect. The result is a series of public conversations about practical directions and best practices relating to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action.

Themes include:

  • Land and Treaty Acknowledgement
  • Examining the current state of urban Indigenous members of the community
  • Community discussion around the Truth and Reconciliation Calls to Action
  • The resurgence of Indigenous voice, resiliency and culture
  • Seeking reciprocity, community accountability and responsibility

Planting Our Seeds 2.0: Resurgence of Indigenous Voices

Speaker Faith Hale launched the series by opening up conversation about treaties, as well as the current climate of urban Indigenous voices and matters within Halton and Ontario. The series, offers authentic insight into Indigenous peoples perspectives and experiences both locally and globally.

Visit the Oakville Public Library

Discover the First Nations, Métis and Inuit collections at Oakville Public Library and dive into curated reading lists for all ages that celebrate Indigenous history.

#OurOakville podcast

  • Episode 2: #OurOakville is for Indigenous History. This podcast welcomes special guest Darin Wybenga, traditional knowledge and land use coordinator with the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation. Wybenga shares his wisdom and knowledge of history and offers context and understanding to the land we now call Oakville.
  • Episode 3: #OurOakville is for Indigenous Peoples. To encourage dialogue, and foster relationships, trust, and understanding, this podcast invites local Indigenous community member Angela Bellegarde to share her experience of belonging in Oakville. Julian Kingston, former supervisor of the Oakville Museum, joins the conversation to discuss how our museum can improve the stories we share.

Launch or download the audio-only version of this podcast. A version with video has also been uploaded to YouTube.

Visit Oakville’s first orange crosswalk at Thomas and Church streets. The crosswalk has been painted orange in honour of children of the residential school system. 

The intersection also features a utility cabinet cover in a Moccasin Identifier Project design. The design features four moccasins representative of the four linguistic groups in Ontario and a permanent interpretive sign.

ReDress Project Awareness: Our Women Now

This is an Indigenous women-led campaign hosted by Grandmothers Voice in the Region of Halton, Ontario. This is our community's response to the 231 Calls for Justice for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls 2S+. This initiative brings community together by providing a Red Dress to display in the foyer and main entrance of public and private service spaces. Accompanied by a poster, information and QR Code, the dress is displayed from Sisters in Spirit Day on October 4 until International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women on November 25. Through the visibility of the red dresses and content provided, we hope the community will collectively stand together to protect our women, girls, children and gender diverse relatives.

Red Dress Project - Red Ribbon at Crawford Lake. We invite you to tie a red ribbon on a white pine, stand in solidarity and offer a moment of silence for our Sisters in Spirit and those missing. Grandmothers Voice would like to acknowledge and thank the WHAM Women of Halton who started this Red Dress and Sisters in Spirit initiative in our region.

A red dress hangs at Town Hall, all recreation and culture facilities, as well as all Oakville library branches.

National Day for Truth and Reconciliation

Each year, the Town of Oakville offers a number of ways to recognize National Day for Truth and Reconciliation in the community. 

Visit the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation page for more details.

Oakville stands with the Indigenous communities

As more bodies are recovered at residential schools, Oakville stands and grieves with all Indigenous communities. 

The devastating news of  Indigenous children’s bodies recovered at the site of residential school sites across Canada is a reminder of the generational impact, trauma and oppression endured by Indigenous peoples in our country as a result of Canada’s residential school system.