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Georgina approves formal acknowledgement of Indigenous peoples
Oct. 24, 2017
By Heidi Riedner

Georgina's council meetings will now begin with formal acknowledgement of Indigenous peoples.

Tabled earlier this month, the motion put forward by Mayor Margaret Quirk was deferred until the wording was formally run by the Chippewas of Georgina Island First Nation band and council.

Officially approved in a letter from Chief Donna BigCanoe, who expressed appreciation for the contact and acknowledgement, the wording was unanimously approved by council in a recorded vote Oct. 18.

"Reconciliation begins with understanding and acknowledging and learning from the past. It means we have to rebuild together what was broken," Quirk quoted of her rationale and timing behind the move.

"That encompasses why I feel we need to do this. I believe it's the first step. Words are one thing, but actions are another."

Moving forward, Quirk will continue discussions with the Chippewas of Georgina Island regarding the possibility of teachings from band members to "assist us with learning their culture, the issues that they have and just a general overview of their situation" to "put into actions the words we are saying at the beginning of each council meeting".

The formal acknowledgement follows those recently initiated at regional council meetings and in area schools as acts of reconciliation.

"Nobody is interested in something you didn't do," Deputy Mayor Naomi Davison said in support of the change and in "appreciation of what is being done here".

The following words will be read at the start of every town council meeting after the traditional moment of meditation:

"We would like to begin today's meeting by acknowledging that the Town of Georgina is located over lands originally used and occupied by the First Peoples of the Williams Treaties First Nations and other Indigenous Peoples and thank them for sharing this land. We would also like to acknowledge the Chippewas of Georgina Island First Nation as our close neighbour and friend, one that we strive to build a co-operative and respectful relationship with".