Honouring the Truth and Reconciliation process, the Town of Oakville is grateful to all of the Indigenous advisors involved in helping to guide us in the teachings and development of these projects for the organization.
Memorials across the country have been growing in honour of the 215 Indigenous children whose bodies were recently discovered at the site of Kamloops Indian Residential School. Our hearts go out to Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc First Nation and the families who are grieving.
In Oakville, memorials have been established at Oakville Museum and Centennial Square (located at 120 Navy Street) to provide a space to remember and reflect on these Indigenous children who never returned home. Show your support to acknowledge this truth and bring a pair of children’s shoes to remember the children who never came home, and the families who never knew what happened to them.
These memorial sites are in addition to flags being flown at half-mast at town facilities for nine days in memory of the 215 Indigenous children. This tragedy is a devastating reminder of the generational impact, trauma and oppression endured by Indigenous peoples in our country as a result of Canada’s residential school system.
A Land Acknowledgement is a formal statement to recognize the relationship between Indigenous peoples and their traditional territories. The following can be used to open public meetings and events in Oakville:
Halton, as we know it today, is rich in the history and modern traditions of many First Nations and the Métis. From the lands of the Anishinabe to the Attawandaron, the Haudenosaunee, and the Métis, these lands surrounding the Great Lakes are steeped in Indigenous history. As we gather today on these treaty lands, we are in solidarity with our Indigenous brothers and sisters to honour and respect the four directions, lands, waters, plants, animals and ancestors that walked before us, and all of the wonderful elements of creation that exist.
We acknowledge and thank the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation for being stewards of this traditional territory.
Join the OPL on Monday, June 21 to Explore Your Roots at Library and Archives Canada: Starting Your First Nations, Inuit & Métis Nation Genealogy in celebration of National Indigenous Peoples Day 2021! Presented in partnership with Library and Archives Canada, participants will learn about resources related to First Nations, Inuit and Métis Nation genealogy, how to access collections in person or online, and how to get advice or assistance.
Visit the Celebrate June page to learn how the Town of Oakvile is marking National Indigenous History Month and National Indigenous Peoples Day 2021.
Click on the tabs that follow for more information about how the Town of Oakville is honouring Indigenous culture and history.
To learn more about this lands treaty history and celebrate the active agreements these treaties seek to protect, the Town of Oakville sought guidance from local Indigenous leaders, including Grandmothers Voice. The result is a series of eight (8) free public conversations about practical directions and best practices relating to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action.
All are invited to listen, interact, and engage with this subject matter in a way that is safe, accessible, and loving for everyone. Join us live through Zoom at 6 p.m. each Thursday, from April 29 to June 17, to explore this valuable part of Oakville’s history, culture, and diversity.
Planting our Seeds program themes include:
Please register in advance so that we can send you a confirmation email with links and instructions.
Participants must have access to Zoom along with a webcam and speakers for optimal experience.
Any conversations you miss will be posted on our YouTube channel.
Jody introduces herself as an Urban Indigenous Woman. Her paternal great-grandmother was of the Cayuga Nation of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy, also known as Six Nations of the Grand River Territory. She also acknowledges her Romanian and English heritage from her mother's lineage.
As a resident of Oakville for over 25 years and a parent, Jody's passion to bring Indigenous culture to the larger community began with a Parent Involvement Grant and collaborations with the Catholic and Public school boards in 2018. This developed into the creation of the Halton Learning Lodge in partnership with HCDSB and Grandmothers Voice.
Her journey continues to inspire other community relatives and cousins towards learning and reconciliation. As an Eagle Feather Carrier, her responsibilities are to aid in the healing of our nation and to encourage a community of practice borne from Indigenous ways of knowing.
A Cree woman from Treaty 6 territory, Sherry's passion for Indigenous issues developed naturally through personal and professional experience. Coming from a family of ten children who were all part of the “Sixties Scoop,” her mother and all of her aunts and uncles were survivors of the Residential school system. Sherry's is the first generation to raise her children without government interference.
This sparked an interest in a wide range of social, political and legal issues like poverty, housing, child and family services, treaty rights, education and legislation impacting First Nations.
Sherry has a degree in Native Studies and Criminology from the University of Saskatchewan and has been studying, volunteering and working in the area of First Nation issues for over 25 years.
A beautiful garden will be planted at Iroquois Ridge Community Centre, honouring the One Dish covenant, to be completed by mid-summer. 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 for our future descendants.
The One Dish garden was designed by Miinikaan ('the seed' in Ojibwe), Indigenous consultants and allies whose gardens invite curiosity and demonstrate Indigenous agroecology teachings. By working with an Indigenous-lead garden team, we ensure sustainably sourced seeds and plants are used.
In addition, 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.
Throughout June, permanent plaques featuring a land acknowledgement are being installed in prominent areas at Town Hall and all our community centres to 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. The following 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. This is in addition to the plaque that was introduced at the Oakville Museum last year.
Come with family and friends to explore the history of the lands in the Oakville area from an Indigenous perspective. The kiosk is located near Rebecca Street and Mississaga Street on the Bronte Creek Heritage Trail. There are also two Moccasin Trails located along the Bronte Creek Heritage Trail and the Inner Valley Trail portion of the Sixteen Mile Creek Trail.
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 trail projects honouring Oakville’s Indigenous heritage received funding from Oakville Community Foundation’s Community Fund for Canada’s 150.
As you enter the Trail take a moment to acknowledge the Indigenous Peoples who travelled through this region over the last 11,000 years.
From 9,000 B.C. to 500 A.D., the Indigenous Peoples depended upon what they could hunt, fish or gather. Little evidence exists of their cultural patterns, yet the stone and chert tools they left behind indicate that they followed the big game herds through this area.
From about 8,000 to 3,000 years ago, more elaborate burial customs emerged and long-distance trading patterns brought exotic materials into this region. Earth works also began to appear across southern Ontario, like the Serpent Mounds National Historic Site of Canada near Peterborough, Ontario.
About 3,000 years ago, the Indigenous Peoples began making ceramic jars and smoking pipes from clay. Approximately 1,500 years ago, corn was introduced into southern Ontario. After that era, horticulture began to define the Indigenous lifestyle of this region, as the cultivation of corn, beans and squash, known as the Three Sisters, allowed the early settlements to grow into more substantial villages.
“We would like to acknowledge the ancestors for their guidance.” Stephen Paquette and Sherry Saevil, project guides.
In the traditional teachings of both the Anishinaabe and Haudenosaunee (People of the Longhouse), this Inspiration Journey follows the elements of their Thanksgiving Address and traditional teachings in which we acknowledge and express our collective appreciation for what the Creation provides for us. In addition to the Creator and his Spirit Helpers, both the Anishinaabe and the Haudenosaunee as do many First Nations, give thanks for the People, Mother Earth, Water, Plant Life, Fruits, Medicines, Fish, Trees, Birds, Four Winds, Grandfather Thunder, Elder Brother the Sun, Grandmother Moon, and the Stars. Follow the Moccasin trails to discover the teachings of the Anishinaabe and the passages of the Thanksgiving Address of the People of the Longhouse.
The Wendat, Neutral and Petun Peoples were the first Indigenous cultures that the French explorers met when they travelled through Southern Ontario.
Holding a vast territory, these Confederacies did not have a concept of owning the land, like that of the French. Instead, they built their homes, kindled their fires, cultivated crops, birthed their children, conducted their ceremonies and buried their dead in places that defined their identity.
The three cultures of this region – Wendat, Neutral and Petun – lived lightly on the land, moving their villages, not depleting the soil, nor overharvesting what nature provided. They would also migrate to special hunting, fishing and gathering places so that they existed within vast networks of rivers, streams lakes and forests, following the annual cycle of nature.
Unfortunately, colonization disrupted the patterns of their lives. Diseases brought by the French, along with a century of warfare over the highly competitive fur trade, disseminated their populations. Only the Wendat survived this onslaught and still exist in Quebec and Oklahoma. The Neutrals and Petun were defeated and absorbed into Haudenosaunee communities in New York State in the 17th century.
Cooperation, sharing and social organization were the hallmarks of first villages in this area.
The different nations that called this area home lived different lifestyles. The Anishinabe would have seasonal camps and moved their locations accordingly. The Wendat would establish small villages with both nations usually organizing their societies around family clan systems.
The villages contained several bark-covered longhouses, often surrounded by wooden palisades to keep out critters and protect the people in case of attack. They were horticulturalists, cultivating corn, beans, squash, and Jerusalem artichokes as well as gathering berries, roots and herbal medicines.
To determine where a village would be built, the local landscape was important – high ground for protection and drainage; fertile fields for crops; ample supply of drinking water and firewood; nearby nut trees; nearby streams for transportation and fishing; as well as plenty of game animals and birds.
The Wendat Nation of this area were related culturally to the Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) in upstate New York, who also established villages along the north shore of Lake Ontario in the 17th century.
Thankfulness, sharing and respect were the core values of the Indigenous philosophies of this region.
The Indigenous Peoples saw the earth as an island resting on the back of a giant turtle, which was floating in an endless sea. Arching above is a huge Sky World from which life originally descended when woman fell from above to begin the process of perpetual regeneration in this world.
This landscape, seen through Indigenous eyes, is alive with ancient stories, ancestral memories, and inspiring worldviews that define the relationships of humans to the living landscape. The Wendat (Huron), Petun and Neutral Nations that once occupied this region share a common Iroquoian language and Iroquoian worldview.
The Indigenous Peoples were forward-looking. Their cultural worldview taught them that the faces of coming generations are held within the earth. Therefore, they carefully considered the impact of their decisions on the ability of the future generation to inherit a healthy, thriving world. As you walk these trails think about the legacy that we are leaving for the seventh generation to come.
The First Nations Peoples of this land envisioned the earth as a great dish that held the foods, medicines and resources necessary for a happy and healthy life.
Oral traditions tell of a Dish with One Spoon, meaning that we all have an equal right to take what we need for our families from the Dish. Yet, we are to only take what we need for now; always leave something in the Dish for others; and keep the Dish clean for the sake of future generations.
Indigenous worldviews teach that humans do not have dominion over nature. Instead, we are an integral part of nature and can enhance or diminish the bounty that nature provides by the degree to which we are thankful. Therefore, the First Nations maintained a culture of gratitude, and offered ceremonies to thank the Mother Earth for what she provides.
As you look upon the current landscape, realize that is it very different from what it was in the past. Once it was like the tundra as the giant glaciers began to recede and new flora and fauna emerged. Then the Carolinian Forest developed with huge oak, pine and maple trees. Deer, bears, wolves and beavers built their homes here. Hundreds of medicine plants can still be found in the meadows and forest of this region. The Mother Earth still fills the great Dish with what we need.
Algonquian-speaking peoples, such as the Anishinabec (Ojibwa), Nippissing, Cree and Odawa (Ottawa) Nations are very different culturally and linguistically from the Iroquoian People.
Unlike the Iroquoians, who were matriarchal in descent, the Anishinawbec were patrilineal.
They were primarily hunter-gatherers, roaming the land in smaller hunting groups or settling in communities of dome-shaped bark lodges.
Between1700-1720 the Mississauga established themselves on the north shore of Lake Ontario and by 1760 extended themselves as far east as Kingston. In 1784 they surrendered their land at the Grand River to members of the Six Nations confederacy who lost their land when they sided with the British during the American Revolution.
The Mississauga surrendered their territory to the British Crown through a series of treaties, however by 1790 they began to understand the British had misled them in those treaties. In 1805 they signed Treaty 13a which left them land along the Credit River, the Twelve Mile and Sixteen Mile Creek in present-day Oakville. Through the effects of continuous settlement, the Mississauga of the Credit now reside on land acquired from Six Nations, who remembered the spirit of their generosity in the past.