Last week was our first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation.
And on the weekend, I heard a few things on the news that made me pause.
I’m writing about one of them today.
There is a new cutting-edge community in the making near the shores of Lake Simcoe. The Orbit. town of Innisfil in Ontario. Trouble is, the Williams Treaty First Nations were not consulted. The Williams Treaty First Nations have filed an injunction.
You can read more about this here.
How we are together…
There has been no environmental assessment and at 150,000 new inhabitants there will be an impact on the land (treaty land) and on Lake Simcoe (used by Williams Treaty First Nations for food, water and ceremony).
When I heard the news clip the city official that was interviewed said something to the effect of “looking forward to collaborating to make this a great project.”
Hmmm…That’s doesn’t sound like consulting. That sounds like “we’ll chat in order to go forward with our idea and you can help us.” It sounds like we’ll talk to you but we’ll keep doing what we want.
The point has been missed entirely.
The process screams “you don’t matter” and is a glaring example of dismissal and not ‘getting’ what reconciliation means.
What is reconciliation?
Here are a few definitions that came up with a Google search:
1. The restoration of friendly relations (Oxford Languages)
2. … The term has come to describe attempts made by individuals and institutions to raise awareness about colonization and its ongoing effects on Indigenous peoples. (Canadianencyclopedia.ca)
3. Reconciliation is about establishing and maintaining a mutually respectful relationship between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal peoples in this country. (source: Indigenous Corporate Training Inc)
4. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission definition of reconciliation:
“. . . Reconciliation is about establishing and maintaining a mutually respectful relationship between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal peoples in this country. In order for that to happen, there has to be awareness of the past, an acknowledgement of the harm that has been inflicted, atonement for the causes, and action to change behaviour.”
As you can see, the more context we add to the term, specific to Indigenous People in Canada, the more robust the definition becomes. And the critical piece is at the end- action to change. Although, you will notice there is much that comes before it.
Back to Orbit…
The Orbit community has been planned without consultation with Williams Treaty First Nations. As the land’s First Peoples, as stewards of the land, that consultation should have come first, before anything. It should have been required, and the project should have required their approval to start.
Instead, Chiefs heard about the project in July, asked for an environmental assessment, and the process moved forward despite that request (and the lack of movement on it).
This issue underscores our lack of awareness of the fundamental truth that the land we are on is Indigenous territory – and has been for tens of thousands of years.
It is a manifestation of not knowing and not understanding history.
It shows the glaring impact of colonization on our knowledge and on our relationships with both the land and Indigenous People who have been its stewards for millennia.
Action for change
Reconciliation is not a national day.
It’s a way of being and living together that acknowledges Indigenous cultures, peoples, and ways of being – and rights.
And folds this into how we do things, and how we live together on this land.
To get there, we have to be ready to be different, and do things differently.
To be (as the definitions suggest) in a “mutually respectful relationship”.
How are we doing?
Read this blog and shore up on what reconciliation is and isn’t.
And then, step in!
Copyright 2021 Annemarie Shrouder