Lambton County Council Should Review Recognition of First Nations Lands: Weber


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Lambton County Council should reconsider its decision not to have a First Nations land recognition read at the start of its meetings, the mayor of Lambton Shores said.

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Bill Weber said he was confused about the intent of a motion that was defeated in June that resulted in an updated land recognition statement not being read at the start of regular meetings.

Weber said he voted against the motion because he believed it was asking county councilors to take turns reading the statement, but believed the statement would still be read aloud by the principal who is the chairman of the Lambton County Council.

Twelve of the 17 county council members voted against the motion.

“I voted against it because I thought it should be read by the director,” Weber said.

“I thought we were voting to have it rotated by advisers and, in fact, we were voting on whether we read it at all,” he said.

“Maybe others had the same thought.”

Weber said he intended to ask the county to research land recognition practices in other counties and consider asking the director of Lambton to read his statement at every council meeting.

“Recognition is something that I think is important,” Weber said. “It gives us a chance to reflect on our history, where we came from and how we got here.”

Lambton Shores council will likely consider adding recognition for First Nations lands, Weber said.

The county council approved an updated land recognition declaration in June.

For several years, the county adopted land recognition declarations, usually made by the director when introducing ceremonies, gatherings, events or presentations, according to a report from Lambton’s cultural services division. But they did not attend the regular council meetings.

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County department officials also made recognitions, but often used different wordings that failed to recognize local treaty relations, the report said.

So, when staff at the Lambton Heritage Museum were working with co-curators Summer Bressette and Monica Virtue on an exhibit for this summer examining the relationship between colonialism and the loss of land by Kettle and Stony Point First Nation, managers of county decided to work with First Nation members to review Lambton’s recognition.

The Canadian government website says the practice is rooted in an ancient Indigenous diplomatic custom revived in modern times to recognize the Indigenous nation (s) occupying the territory where a meeting is held.

“Making a respectful territorial recognition at the start of an activity is essential for reconciliation,” says the site.

County staff reached out to author and historian David Plain, a member of the Aamjiwnaang First Nation, for advice and also consulted with elders from Kettle and Stony Point First Nation and Walpole Island First Nation while updating its recognition.

It includes a preamble noting local treaties, as well as a shorter statement to be read aloud at events.

Lambton County Traditional Lands Recognition Statement:

“We recognize that this land on which we have gathered today is part of the ancestral land of the Chippewa, Odawa and Potawatomi peoples, collectively referred to as Anishinaabeg.

“It is through the connection of the Anishinaabeg with the spirit of the land, water and air that we recognize their unique cultures, traditions and values.

“Together, as signatories to the treaties, we have a shared responsibility to act with respect for the environment that sustains all life, while protecting the future of generations to come.

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