Statement from the Mayor on National Indigenous Peoples Day  

Wachay,

As I sit here and look out over the vast Mattagami River Valley, I want to first acknowledge that the City of Timmins is situated in Treaty 9 territory that is steeped in rich Indigenous history and that the lands on which we operate are the traditional territory of many First Nations, Metis and Inuit People today. We also acknowledge Mattagami First Nation, from whose traditional land I speak. I make this Acknowledgement as a first step in recognizing First Peoples’ large history and the living culture that continues today. With respect I acknowledge the Spirit and Intent of the Treaty, as well as the elders, past and present.

Today is National Indigenous Peoples Day, our 25th year celebrating the heritage, diverse cultures and contributions of First Nations, Inuit and Metis peoples. The date is significant, it is the summer solstice, and for generations Indigenous communities have celebrated their culture and heritage near this day because it is the longest day of light in the year.

Just last month, Canada was reminded about one of the darkest chapters of our history when the remains of 215 children were discovered buried in un-marked graves near a former residential school in British Columbia. For the first time in my life, I questioned what it means to be Canadian. How could this have happened? But we often choose to forget that our past includes the operation of more than 150 institutions that forcibly separated children from their families to assimilate them into Canadian society. With that discovery, we can no longer claim ignorance. With that discovery, we must make a commitment to learn about our past history, as dark as it may be, to unlearn behaviours that do nothing to promote inclusion and diversity.

We know that our past treaties with Indigenous Peoples formed the foundation for systemic racism that still exists in Canada today. Economic disparity was ensured between the white community and Indigenous population by making sure there was no perceived economic value of the land they were provided. We need to recognize that this has led to isolation, poverty and inequity. We must now ask ourselves what our role will be in stopping systemic racism. We have an obligation and opportunity to shape our future together and create vibrant communities and healthy economies that are inclusive and diverse.

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada states that “together, Canadians must do more than just talk about reconciliation; we must learn how to practice reconciliation in our everyday lives – within ourselves and our families, and in our communities, governments, places of worship, schools and workplaces.”

It is with that spirit of reconciliation, of education, and acknowledgment that we celebrate National Indigenous Peoples Day as a community. We will stand together to learn and understand our past histories with the purpose of shaping a new future. I believe that future is possible … to walk together and speak with one voice.

Miigwetch,

Mayor George Pirie


Posted by Amanda Dyer On 6/21/2021 at 9:01 AM  

 
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