A land acknowledgment is set to be read at the beginning of every Municipality of Chatham-Kent Council meeting going forward.
Council approved a staff recommendation at Monday night’s October 5, 2020 electronic meeting.
The approved land acknowledgment reads as follows:
“We acknowledge that we are on the lands of the Anishnaabeg Nation. This spot where we gather is the traditional land of the Three Fires Confederacy: the Odawa, Potawatami and Ojibwe. We also recognize that this land is now home to the Delaware Nation. This land was settled through the McKee Purchase Treaty of 1790 and we, as beneficiaries of the treaty, must recognize our responsibilities including our collective responsibilities to the land and water.”
Chatham Councillor Karen Kirkwood-Whyte also entered a successful amendment to the motion.
“That a concerted effort be made, on the part of Municipal Council, to familiarize itself with the 10 principles of reconciliation, the 94 calls to action and the 46 articles of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) by acquiring copies of the document from the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation,” Kirkwood-Whyte said in her amendment.
Judy Smith, the director of municipal governance and the municipal clerk, said in a staff report that land acknowledgements are a historically accurate way to recognize the traditional First Nations, Métis and/or Inuit territories of a place.
“They commemorate Indigenous peoples’ principal kinship to the land and the fact that we have not and cannot be erased from her, our collective first mother,” Smith said in her report.
“Administration reviewed a number of land acknowledgement statements in the drafting of this report and has made a recommendation that is specific to Chatham-Kent.”
Smith added that land acknowledgements “are a necessary first step” toward honouring the original occupants of a place.
“They also help Canadians recognize and respect Indigenous peoples’ inherent kinship beliefs when it comes to the land, especially since those beliefs were restricted for so long,” Smith said in her report.
Staff reached out to representatives of Walpole Island First Nation, Caldwell First Nation, Delaware Nation and the Metis Nation to ensure the land acknowledgement represents all lands in Chatham-Kent.
However, no feedback was received for or against the recommendation, Smith said in her report.
Council had directed staff back in September of last year to bring back recommendations for a land acknowledgement to be read before municipal events.