Newsletter Signup

Taking Action on Reconciliation with the Indigenous Community

Traditional Indigenous Prayer Ceremony - June 1_2021_08

Our hearts broke when we learned about the 215 children whose remains were found in a mass unmarked grave at the former Kamloops Indian Residential School in B.C. This was a devastating discovery, and we cannot imagine the grief Indigenous communities and families are experiencing.

We joined in their mourning by lowering the flags at Burlington City Hall and fire stations for one hour for every child – nine days, ending June 9. We also paused all ceremonial flag raisings until then. The Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation flag has been added to our flag poles.

Our hearts were ripped open once again at the discovery of 751 unmarked graves near the former Marieval Indian Residential School near Regina, Sask. Burlington mourns and stands with the Cowessess First Nation and all Indigenous communities. Flags at Burlington City Hall, City facilities and fire stations, and Burloak Park were lowered for one hour for each child (31 days) until July 26.

On June 1, I joined in a traditional prayer ceremony at Civic Square with our Burlington and Halton Indigenous community members to honour the spirits of the 215 children. We laid shoes to represent these children and all children who attended Canada’s Residential schools. The shoes will remain for the month of June. I invite residents to come any time to your own lay shoes. At the end of the month they will be donated.

The city is also supporting an art installation, A Hope for Healing, by Burlington Indigenous artist Amber Ruthart at Spencer Smith Park June 19-21 — National Indigenous Peoples Day is on June 21. More details to come, but you can participate in advance by donating red clothing/material and shoes (children size 12, adult size 5) that can be dropped off — email for locations.

Council is also taking action. Resolutions are coming to Burlington and Halton Regional councils calling the federal government to hold a national day of mourning, search all former residential school sites for additional burial grounds and commit to advancing the Calls to Action from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

The resolution for our City also asks our own Burlington Council to commit to learning more about local Indigenous history through a workshop, as a first step.

Photo by Peter Granka on Facebook.

We won’t heal or be whole as a country until we acknowledge the genocide committed against the Indigenous First Nations people in Canada.

We must also acknowledge the ongoing serious impacts on generations of Indigenous people of tearing children away from their families in an effort to destroy their culture. Thousands never returned. We must wholeheartedly commit ourselves to the Calls to Action in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

I’m grateful to all the local Indigenous leaders and community members who met with me this past year to discuss how we can take steps towards meeting the Calls to Action and moving towards true reconciliation.

These are not easy conversations to have, but we must have them.

June is National Indigenous History Month, with National Indigenous Peoples Day on June 21. I encourage everyone to devote time to learn more about the history of Canada’s treatment of Indigenous people.

We have opened all of our Burlington Committee and City Council meetings with a Land Acknowledgement since June 2018. I’ve included it below:

Land Acknowledgement for the City of Burlington

Burlington as we know it today is rich in history and modern traditions of many First Nations and the Métis. From the Anishinaabeg to the Haudenosaunee, and the Métis – our lands spanning from Lake Ontario to the Niagara Escarpment are steeped in Indigenous history. ​

​The territory is mutually covered by the Dish with One Spoon Wampum Belt Covenant, an agreement between the Iroquois Confederacy, the Ojibway and other allied Nations to peaceably share and care for the resources around the Great Lakes.

We would like to acknowledge that the land on which we gather is part of the Treaty Lands and Territory of the Mississaugas of the Credit.


Receive new post notifications by email

1 thought on “Taking Action on Reconciliation with the Indigenous Community”

  1. With Canada Day approaching, I think how difficult it will be for Indigenous people to see the celebrations. I used to decorate my Burlington home with flags. Not until Canada has brought real truth and transparency, held those responsible for the murder of children as reported in eye witnesses gone unheard, and folks compensated, will pride begin to be restored. The art installation is a beautiful representation of Canada’s deep failure of Indigenous people.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Here are guidelines before you comment, and our expectations before we will post:

  • Be civil. Would you speak this way to a good friend? If not, rewrite.
  • Focus on the issues. Build your argument and make your case in support of your opinion from facts, research or other sources. That way we can all learn. “I disagree with so-and-so because…” is fine; “So-and-so is naïve/stupid  for thinking the way he/she does and here’s why…” is not acceptable.
  • Don’t make personal attacks. Don’t assume motives of those you disagree with, make unfounded allegations, spread rumours, or engage in any other behaviours that would discourage you from participating if someone said this to, or about, you. The Golden Rule applies: Do unto others as you would have done to you. We will edit or not post comments with this type of content.
  • Say it once: When comments from the same individual or individuals become repetitive, going over ground already stated, we reserve the right to close commenting.
  • Use your full, and real, name. If wish to make a comment in public, we expect you will publicly stand behind it with your name. If you don’t want to publicly reveal your name, that’s fine; you are always welcome to share your thoughts with me privately via my email below. I welcome and consider all feedback in making decisions for the community.
  • Have fun, consider and learn. Share your views and read those of others. May we all benefit from a healthy exchange of ideas, and learn a little more about the people in our community, what you think, and what’s important to each of you. You may end up changing your mind about an issue; even if you don’t, we hope everyone will gain a greater understanding of why people have different perspectives.
Picture of Marianne Meed Ward

Marianne Meed Ward

I was inspired to seek public office because I believe, like so many of you, “I can do something about that” on the issues we face. As councilor, my role is to take a stand on what’s best for residents and go to bat for it. Pushback is inevitable from those who don’t have the community’s interests at heart. I will stand with you and for you, to achieve the best interests of our city, without caving to unacceptable compromise in the name of consensus.

Newsletter Sign Up

Phone: 905-335-7777