The City of Markham takes Canada’s commitment to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s mandate and actions very seriously and views our municipal obligations as a critical component of the City’s overall diversity strategy and action plan.
As a country, and as a municipality, we are reframing history by adding and honouring the often-excluded experiences of Canada’s Indigenous Peoples, and we are working to restore and nurture past broken relationships and generations of trauma. Although we have started this work at the City of Markham, we know we have a lot more work to do and we remain motivated by this commitment.
The City of Markham is situated upon traditional territories of the Anishinaabe Peoples and of the Haudenosaunee Peoples. These territories are covered by the Upper Canada Treaties. The First Nations community in closest proximity to the City of Markham are the Chippewas of Georgina Island.
In 2017, the City of Markham signed a historic agreement of cultural collaboration with Eabametoong First Nation, also known as Fort Hope. Eabametoong First Nation is an Ojibway First Nation located 360 kilometres northeast of Thunder Bay, Ontario and 1,000 kilometers north of Markham. This first-of-its-kind agreement between an urban municipality and a remote northern First Nation community will enable us to partner together and to learn from one another. Specifically, the two communities have agreed to: promote social, cultural and economic collaboration; promote harmony and goodwill for the betterment of their residents; and raise public awareness.
In January 2018, the City, as an act of reconciliation, approved its formal land acknowledgement to recognize and honour the traditional territories of Indigenous Peoples. This statement is articulated at the beginning of Council and other Committee meetings. The land acknowledgement helps us lead while remembering and acknowledging our history. The act of saying and repeating the land acknowledgement is also a way for us to honour oral traditions and to help us commit the sentiment to memory.
We begin today by acknowledging that we walk upon the traditional territories of Indigenous Peoples and we recognize their history, spirituality, culture, and stewardship of the land. We are grateful to all Indigenous groups for their commitment to protect the land and its resources and we are committed to reconciliation, partnership and enhanced understanding.
Education is an important aspect of the City’s Truth and Recognition commitment and strategy to honour Indigenous Peoples, recognize our past mistakes, raise awareness and increase knowledge, and build respect and trust.
The City is providing ongoing education opportunities for staff including: inviting Indigenous speakers to lead discussions and educational activities; making available the KAIROS blanket exercise at staff events; rolling out Indigenous awareness training at Markham Public Library; and offering Indigenous-related collections and programs at Markham Public Library.
Markham’s newest community centre, Aaniin Community Centre and Library, was named after the Ojibwe word for “welcome”. The Ojibwe Nation is part of the Anishinaabe Peoples. Aaniin is a space where our communities can come together, listen, learn and share experiences.
A selection of resources are shared below to assist with improving our knowledge and understanding of Indigenous Peoples and their history.
Indian Residential School Crisis Line (available 24 hours a day, nation-wide): 1.866.925.4419