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.
The Town of Oakville is offering a number of ways to recognize National Day for Truth and Reconciliation in the community. Over the next few weeks, residents are invited to participate in activities to learn more about the rich and diverse culture of Indigenous people and reflect on the generational impact, trauma and oppression endured by Indigenous peoples in Canada as a result of the residential school system:
In addition to activities being offered by the town, the “Every Child Matters” orange flag will be flown at Town Hall during the week of September 26 and lowered to half-mast on September 30. Town Hall and the Oakville Centre for the Performing Arts will also be lit orange during the week of September 26. Please note: Town Hall will be closed on National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. Read the public notice for more information.
A reminder for for those who may be in need of support, please call:
The Town of Oakville is honouring Treaties Recognition Week from November 6-12 by encouraging residents to learn more about the importance of treaties, the significance of treaty rights, treaty relationships, and their relevance today.
Oakville, 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. We are in solidarity with 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.
Oakville is on the treaty lands and territory of the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation. On September 5, 1806, Treaty 14 (Head of the Lake Purchase) was signed and on February 8, 1820, Treaty 22, which encompasses the lands at 12 Mile Creek (Bronte Creek) and 16 Mile Creek in Oakville, was signed. In acknowledgement of the 200th anniversary of the signing of Treaty 22, Mayor Rob Burton and Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation Chief/Gimma Stacey Laforme had a wampum belt exchange in February 2020. The ceremony at Oakville Museum’s Erchless Estate was led by Elder Garry Sault and local Indigenous Knowledge Guide Stephen Paquette. 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. Mayor Rob Burton read a proclamation and was again joined by Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation Gimaa Stacey Laforme, Indigenous Knowledge Guide Stephen Paquette and other special guests to mark the occasion.
Since 2019, the town also has a permanent Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation flag flying at Oakville Town Hall to acknowledge and thank the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation for being stewards of this traditional territory.
As more bodies are recovered at residential schools across Canada, Oakville stands and grieves with all Indigenous communities. The devastating news of 169 potential graves at Grouard Mission site in northern Alberta, 54 unmarked graves at two former residential school sites around Keeseekoose First Nation, Saskatchewan, the 93 possible burial sites at St. Joseph’s Mission Residential School in Williams Lake, B.C., more than 160 unmarked graves found near the Kuper Island Industrial School site on Penelakut Island, B.C., 182 unmarked graves found at the site of St. Eugene’s Mission Residential School in Cranbrook, B.C., 751 unmarked graves at the site of Marieval Indian Residential School in Saskatchewan and 215 Indigenous children’s bodies recovered at the site of Kamloops Indian Residential School 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.
The flags at town facilities were flown at half-mast since May 30, 2021, to honour the lives lost and in support of Indigenous communities across Canada and following the Federal Government’s direction, remained lowered for November 8, 2021, for Indigenous Veterans Day. On November 9, the flags were raised and lowered again on November 11, 2021, for Remembrance Day. On the morning of November 12, the flags will be raised again and remain raised. The town continues to follow the Federal Government’s direction and will fly flags at town facilities at half-mast to mark the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation every September 30.
For those who may be in need of support, please call:
We have the opportunity to have an open dialogue about how we as a community can support an inclusive, diverse, and equitable Oakville. That begins with acknowledging the past and the Truth and Reconciliation work that needs to continue, including the calls to action. We must continue to work together to build on what unites us and continue creating a community where everyone feels respected and welcomed.
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 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.
At Town Hall, the flag of the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation is permanently flown alongside the national, provincial and municipal flag. 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 Butterfly Highway to ensure a healthy habitat for butterflies and other pollinators.
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.
Planting our Seeds program themes include:
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.
With over 35 year of experience 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 has led to years of dedication and advocacy.
Sherry is currently employed with Halton Catholic District School Board as the Indigenous Education Advisor with dual roles of increasing Indigenous Education (K-12) and Community Engagement.
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 for 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-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. 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, which responds to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Call to Action #14.
Throughout June 2021, permanent plaques featuring a land acknowledgement were 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. 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.
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, inviting two Grandmothers 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.
Five meeting rooms at Town Hall have been renamed to honour the Indigenous land and territory where Oakville resides.
This project responds to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Call to Action #14.1.
In February 2020, Mayor Rob Burton and Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation Chief Stacey LaForme acknowledged the anniversary of the signing of Treaty 22, which encompasses the lands at 12 Mile Creek and 16 Mile Creek in Oakville, with a wampum belt exchange. The ceremony was lead by Elder Garry Sault and a local Indigenous Knowledge Holder, Stephen Paquette and was held at Oakville Museum’s Erchless Estate.
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. Mayor Rob Burton read a proclamation and was again joined by Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation Gimaa Stacey Laforme, Indigenous Knowledge Guide Stephen Paquette and other special guests to mark the occasion.
Treaty 22, which encompasses the lands at 12 Mile Creek (Bronte Creek) and 16 Mile Creek in Oakville, was signed on February 8, 1820 while Treaty 14 (Head of the Lake Purchase) was signed on September 5, 1806. It is because of these treaties that Oakville exists today.
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.
Visit Tannery Park and explore the Moccasin Identifier and outdoor classroom gathering circle, which was built to promote public awareness of the significant cultural historic sites and the ancestral presence of First Nations, Métis and Indigenous Communities.
Learn about Indigenous history by walk along the park’s path and reading the “Rooted in the Land” history wall, which was created in consultation with the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation.
Métis artist Tracey-Mae Chambers threads connections between people, communities, and the environment. With this work, the artist responds to our individual and collective experiences of the pandemic and of the discoveries of the remains of Indigenous children buried at former Residential Schools. Themes of hope and healing drive Chambers’ work as she symbolically reconnects a fractured society with tangled webs of red yarn. The colour red represents blood, passion, anger, courage and love. #hopeandhealingcanadainvites visitors to engage with the idea of connection, asking how communities can move forward to heal and support one another through traumatic and life-altering events.
“The yarn is used to illustrate connections between people and their environment and each other,” says Chambers. “More specifically, the connections between First Nations, Inuit and Métis is called into question considering that they are somehow outside of the general Canadian community. The thought of decolonizing spaces is also a major factor in this project.”
#hopeandhealingcanada will travel to 30+ sites across Canada but no two installations are alike. At the end of the Oakville installation, Chambers will collect the red string to use in her next exhibition. This installation is part of Culture Days Festival 2021.
This is an Indigenous women-led campaign hosted by Grandmothers Voice in the Region of Halton, Ontario. This is our communities’ 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 remains displayed from Sisters in Spirit Day October 4 to November 25, International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women. Our wish through the visibility of the red dresses and content provided, we will collectively stand together to protect our Women, Girls, Children and Gender Diverse Relatives.
Red Dress Project - Red Ribbon at Crawford Lake - For the second year 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.
The Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation and the Oakville Community Foundation (OCF) launched “Debwewin”- the Oakville Truth Project in October 2021 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?” and “Why did Treaty 22 which includes coverage of Oakville main waterways, Sixteen Mile and Bronte Creek leave the Mississaugas homeless?” Learn more about the “Debwewin”-The Oakville Truth Project by visiting Debwewin Oakville.
Watch 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 brings his wisdom and knowledge of history and offers context and understanding to the land we now call Oakville.
Watch 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, Supervisor of the Oakville Museum, joins the conversation to share 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.
This podcast welcomes special guest Darin Wybenga, Traditional Knowledge and Land Use Coordinator with the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation. Wybenga brings his wisdom and knowledge of history and offers context and understanding to the land we now call Oakville.
Launch or download the audio-only version of this podcast. A version with video has also been uploaded to YouTube.
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, Supervisor of the Oakville Museum, joins the conversation to share 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.
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.