Truth and reconciliation an ongoing discussion in Sioux Lookout
Tim Brody - Associate Editor
The Mayor’s Committee for Truth and Reconciliation, which meets regularly, held its most recent meeting on September 7 at the heritage train station.
Created by Sioux Lookout Municipal Council last August, the committee, comprised of nine members, was created to address 94 calls to action identified by the National Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada.
Truth and Reconciliation (TRC) meetings are open to the public.
The committee heard from four delegations.
Sioux Lookout Bulletin editor Dick MacKenzie informed the committee The Bulletin discontinued its Court in Brief section last November.
Speaking to The Bulletin’s content MacKenzie stated, “I strive to include as much of the community as I can and that includes, in large part, Indigenous people, groups, and organizations here.”
He added, “I make a great effort to include the people of this community, who I think are all important.”
He further commented, “The Bulletin is uniquely Sioux Lookout’s paper… I want it to reflect Sioux Lookout and all of its people and all of the things around us.”
Committee member Garnet Angeconeb commented, “I just wanted to say I have noticed that the column… has not been published for a long time and I really wondered why that was, and I thank you for sharing that with us… I thank you for not publishing Court in Brief.”
Other committee members also expressed their thanks to MacKenzie for removing the section.
Angeconeb praised the work done by the Bulletin covering Indigenous issues.
Sioux Lookout resident Tom Terry informed the committee about a project he would like to see happen.
He proposed the Municipality of Sioux Lookout undertake a project, possibly in partnership with Lac Seul and Slate Falls First Nations – Friendship Accord co-signers – to respond to one of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s calls to action.
In a handout to the committee he shared that the project has two primary objectives, “To officially and formally restore official geographical place names in our region to the original and more proper names which existed before Europeans first explored this region of Northwestern Ontario, and to officially formally, and publically encourage and promote the use of these restored and proper names.”
He also suggested possible funding sources for the project.
Sioux Lookout Mayor Doug Lawrance said he was excited about the idea
He informed Terry he would be meeting with Friendship Accord chiefs on Friday and would bring the project up.
Raymond Angeconeb, a Lac Seul Band Councillor, also attended the meeting.
He felt Lac Seul First Nation Chief Clifford Bull would be happy to support such a project.
Lawrance cautioned that the Municipality has jurisdiction to change things like street names, but said some things might be out of its jurisdiction, adding the Municipality could lobby other levels of government for name changes.
Sioux Lookout Chamber of Commerce president Alana Anderson said there has been discussion within the chamber about the possibility of establishing an Aboriginal Chamber of Commerce.
She also informed the chamber is in the midst of restructuring to put more of a focus on business.
Garnet Angeconeb informed that Winnipeg has an Aboriginal Chamber of Commerce and suggested the chamber could have dialogue with them on the matter.
Sioux Lookout Public Library CEO and Chief Librarian Mike Laverty informed committee members, “The library will be offering library cards to residents of Lac Seul at no charge. That’s something we’ve wanted to do for a very long time.”
He also shared, “We will officially be launching our Indigenous collection on October 11.”
Garnet Angeconeb informed the committee of a special ceremony and meeting taking place September 20 between Indian Residential School (IRS) survivors and officials from the Law Society of Upper Canada.
A press release he provided to the committee explained, “The Law Society’s treasurer has announced the appointment of a review panel to examine the way in which the Law Society and its Tribunal address regulatory matters involving Indigenous persons, complaints, and issues. The review panel will identify issues and make recommendations on opportunities for inclusion of Indigenous perspectives.”
He pointed out that the day will feature a sunrise ceremony at Pelican Falls Centre, followed by a light breakfast. The day’s meeting will take place at the Nishnawbe-Gamik Friendship Centre stating at 9 a.m.
The day will also include honour songs and a sharing circle.
The Municipality of Sioux Lookout will also be celebrating Culture Days from September 29 to October 1.
On September 29 at 7 p.m. an evening of short film screenings and discussion will take place at the train station.
Jane and the Wolf, a film by Nadine Arpin of Sioux Lookout, narrated and produced by Rachel Garrick from Hudson, is one of the films which will be viewed and discussed.
On September 30 residents are invited to participate in the Orange Shirt Day commemorative walk and community BBQ.
The event will include a walk from Frog Rapids Bridge to the Travel Information Centre at 10:30 a.m.
A free community BBQ will be held at noon, followed by speeches.
Participants are encouraged to bring photographs of loved ones, stories, poems or something that is significant to Truth and Reconciliation for a mural that will be created and displayed on site.
Orange Shirt Day is intended to open the door to global conversation on all aspects of residential schools.
Orange shirts are being ordered for walk participants.
Event coordinator Darlene Angeconeb, a Mayor’s TRC committee member, said the walk honours residential school survivors by remembering the past to create a better future.
A concert on Sept 30 at 8 p.m. at the Legion will feature Natasha Ashlynn and Reilly Scott.