To mark Treaties Recognition Week earlier this month, the City of Thunder Bay unveiled a plaque to honour Indigenous people of the region.
“This is an important gesture of the City of Thunder Bay’s commitment to improving relations . . . and also to show inclusiveness so Indigenous people can see that this is a welcoming space,” said Regina Mandamin, manager of Indigenous relations.
The plaque now permanently displayed in the lobby of city hall is also a way to encourage dialogue, said Mandamin, and talk about treaty relations and some of the difficult truths.
“With reconciliation you need to share some of the difficult truths as well and this treaty here is a sign and a permanent fixture to facilitate that conversation,” said Mandamin.
The Robinson-Superior Treaty is also displayed at Confederation College and another plaque will be displayed in council chambers after the room is renovated. The Fort William First Nation and the police services board also have treaty plaques.
Awareness and education is a big component of Treaties Recognition Week.
“We need to encourage people to feel brave enough to have these conversations and promote awareness . . . and to remember that we were always here prior to colonial influence and some of the sacrifices made to facilitate settlement here in Thunder Bay,” said Mandamin.
The Indigenous Relations and Inclusion office will be launching their new strategy later this month.
“I think over the last number of years we have all as a country have arrived at a watershed moment . . . as we deal with reconciliation, and this is a part of what we are doing as a community here,” said Mayor Bill Mauro.
Mauro says the Robinson-Superior Treaty plaque is part of an educational opportunity about the history of Canada and the history of the Indigenous population and a small way to move forward with better relations with Indigenous people in the community.