Truth and Reconciliation Day

I wrote this on the first federally acknowledged Truth and Reconciliation Day, September 30th 2021, for my therapist colleagues in a clinic I was working at.

Boozhoo nwiijkiwenydig giinwaa mnik bezndaageyeg. (Greetings friends, those of you who are listening).

Today is Canada’s first Truth and Reconciliation day, a day to remember and mourn the tragic and conflicted colonial past, which the country that we know as modern Canada is built on. I’ve been thinking a lot about this lately, and wanting to educate myself more. To acknowledge the importance of this day, I thought that I’d share my research with you about whose land we are on at 56 Aberfoyle Crescent.

We are located on the Treaty Lands and Territory of the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation, located within the bounds of The Toronto Purchase Treaty No. 13, made between the Mississaugas of the Credit and the British Crown in 1805. As is sadly common in “treaty negotiations” between the British Crown and Indigenous tribes all over the world, where there are two groups meeting with different world views, within a situation where one has significant more power over the other, where the processes of colonisation including violence, disease, starvation, and war have already wrecked havoc…the Mississaugas of the Credit had significantly less bargaining power.

You can read about this more here, but essentially the original Toronto Purchase was very dubious. The purchase agreement was blank and the chiefs who signed it didn’t sign the original, and it was unclear in the agreement the boundaries of the land being purchased by the Crown. Thanks to the power and energy of the Missiaugas of the Credit First Nation, the Treaty was settled in court in 2010, and the Nation received financial compensation.

As I read about this, I reflect on how this land, now a significant portion of the city we live and work in, might have looked different if it remained in Mississauga hands. Perhaps we wouldn’t be here. Or perhaps we would, but in a way that lived in partnership and relationship with the Missisaugas. Perhaps the land would be greener, the water cleaner, guided by values of guardianship and care, rather than profit and capitalism. Perhaps we’d be able to afford housing! It’s hard to know, and impossible to re-write the past, but what I can do is think carefully about how I’d like to start again in the present.

I’d like to start by thinking about partnership, and how I can reciprocate and honour the ancestors who under hardship signed away their lands to keep their people alive. I can do this by knowing whose traditional land it is, the name of the Treaty that allows me to live here under a semblance of law, the language that is spoken by the Indigenous people of this land and learn about people who have lived and protected this land, long before the Mississaugas, including the Huron-Wendat and Haudenosaunee peoples.

If you’re also interested in learning more, here’s some great things I’ve found:

  • One of our local languages is Mississauga/Eastern Anishinaabe (Ojibwa). Here’s a handy dictionary!
  • Information about the Treaty called The Toronto Purchase is here
  • Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation website
  • A local land acknowledgment poem
  • Donate to the Anishinabek 7th Generation Charity. As I’ve recently learnt, Anishinabek refers to a grouping of Indigenous people largely now residing within what we call Ontario, including Ojibway, Odawa, Pottawatomi, Oji-Cree, and other Algonquians. The Mississaugas of the Credit are a sub-group of the Ojibway. A charity has been created to support Anishinabek!
  • If you’re interested in finding out more about your local First Nation, language and Treaty, this map is a great place to start

Miigwech! (Thank you!)
Mnwaabmewziwin! (Good luck!)