Mayor calls for July 1 reflection on “what kind of country you want Canada to be”

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Deep River Mayor Sue D’Eon is calling on local residents and “all Canadians” to take time this July 1 to reflect on “where our country has come from and where we want it to go.”

In a Canada Day message posted on the town’s website, D’Eon says that while Canada Day is “typically a day we celebrate,” this year is different in light of the recent discoveries of unmarked graves of Indigenous children at the sites of former residential schools.

“Recently, we’ve all been exposed to horrific news, facts that challenge who we thought we were as Canadians,” she says. “Although difficult to acknowledge – acknowledge it we must – minimize it we must not.”

“History is always a teacher,” the mayor continues, “(and) we need to become better students. Make time to read, learn, discuss and contemplate our collective past and reflect on what kind of country you want Canada to be.”

D’Eon says it is time for Canadians to “fundamentally reorient our relationship with our Indigenous neighbours and let them guide us to a new way forward, a way forward that is based on true partnership and equity.”

“Chief Cadmus Delorme from the Crowessess First Nation, asks us to read the Truth and Reconciliation ‘Calls to Action’. He asks us to bring the Calls to Action into our personal life, our social life and our business life. It is a place to start.”

“Deep River stands with the Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO),” the mayor concludes, “in celebrating the diversity of this land and acknowledging a complex history, better understood through Truth and Reconciliation and the lived experiences of all communities.”

On Wednesday, Renfrew County council debated a motion to create a new “Garden of Reconciliation” at the county administration building in Pembroke.

The new garden would “honour and recognize the individual and collective rights and fundamental freedoms of all people to live in a state of dignity and respect which should be the foundation of our relationship with First Nations.”

“Designed to grow over time, the garden would depict Truth and Reconciliation’s teachings of truth, humility, honesty, wisdom, respect, courage and love.”

County councillors also discussed a motion brought forward by Deep River Reeve Glenn Doncaster for training options for county staff and council that would “provide education on the history of Canada’s Indigenous peoples, including the history and legacy of residential schools, the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Treaties and Indigenous rights, Indigenous law, and Indigenous-Crown relations.”

The motion also called on the county to “begin a dialogue with the Algonquins of Ontario and the Algonquins of Pikwakanagan on ways to advance efforts for reconciliation efforts within the County of Renfrew.”

“The proposed resolution is the first step in advancing our efforts on reconciliation with the Algonquin People,” Doncaster said in his background to the resolution.

“We must recognize that the burden of reconciliation is on us, and not our Algonquin neighbours. In the spirit of a good partnership, we must take the time and do the work necessary.

“Most importantly, if we are really, truly, and meaningfully committed to reconciliation, we need to consider what reconciliation really means. It is about fundamentally reorienting our relationship with our Indigenous neighbours and finding a new way forward; a way forward that is based on true partnership and equity.”

The town has posted a copy of the “Calls to Action” from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission on its website. To read the document, click here.

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