Dufferin News Municipal Politics Shelburne

Town of Shelburne Re-Examining Land Acknowledgement

Town of Shelburne Re-Examining Land Acknowledgement

The Town of Shelburne’s land acknowledgement may be excluding the Haudenosaunee peoples, also known as Six Nations, and that parts of the town lie upon the Haldimand Tract.

“I think one of the things that I learned, especially after the 215 bodies were found,” pronounced Deputy Mayor Steve Anderson, “is a greater understanding of our indigenous history right here in the county of Dufferin, and particularly in Shelburne.”

The deputy mayor said he had learned that the Haudenosaunee are ‘an instrumental group in the area.’

“I thought this would be a nice gesture to add them to the current line of acknowledgements recognizing their presence here in our community, said Anderson, “and that’s all it’s about.”

Mayor Wade Mills questioned whether it was culturally and geographically appropriate to include the Haudenosaunee in the Shelburne’s land acknowledgement.

“It’s just we had gone through a fair bit of consultation in the development of our original statement,” recounted Mills. “Are we sure that this is accurate?”

Deputy Mayor Anderson then explained how the Haudenosaunee are the indigenous group that declared a moratorium on development along the Haldimand Tract. He told of how Dufferin County staff, and others, have confirmed that the west side of Shelburne lies upon the tract. Records put out by the Museum of Dufferin also show this to be true. Anderson reminded his colleagues how the town’s planner had been asked to bring forth more precise information on the matter.

“I think it would be helpful for us to know what portions of Shelburne, if it is the west side, are included in the Haldimand Tract.” declared Anderson at the May 31 council meeting. “After that, what steps, if any, we decide to take once that information is confirmed in concert with the county, as they are now looking into how to go about addressing this issue.”

At the May 31 meeting where Deputy Mayor Anderson made the initial inquiry, Councillor Walter Benotto shared how the Haldimand Tract has come up during one of his past terms on Shelburne’s council. Councillor Benotto stated how he is under the impression that the tract includes ‘not much of any’ of Shelburne’s west side. He shared that the town is primarily affected by way of drainage, some of which goes toward the Grand River. 

Shelburne’s deputy mayor stated that he would be okay with deferring the motion on changing the land acknowledgement until Shelburne council received the requested knowledge from the planner.

“Just to your point, you just want to make sure that we get it absolutely right,” asserted Deputy Mayor Anderson. “We can consult with other individuals or other groups just to make absolutely sure, and then at that point we can revisit this.” 

Mayor Mills suggested a friendly amendment be made to Anderson’s motion to ask staff to make the appropriate consultations and report back. It was accepted, and the council voted in favour of the motion unanimously.

The Town of Shelburne’s Land Acknowledgement currently reads as the following. It can be found in every council meeting agenda package.

“We would like to acknowledge the traditional territory of the Anishinaabe including the Ojibway, Potawatomi and Chippewa and the People of the Three Fires Confederacy.”

On April 20, 2021, Haudenosaunee leadership announced that they would no longer consider it acceptable to develop along the entire Haldimand Tract. The tract consists of 10km of land on both sides of the Grand River, from Dundalk to Lake Erie. According to Museum of Dufferin records, the Dufferin County municipalities with at least some land lying upon the Haldimand Tract are Grand Valley, Shelburne, Melancthon, Amaranth, and East Garafraxa. After receiving formal notice of the moratorium on May 27, Dufferin County councillors agreed to direct staff to request an opportunity to communicate with the Six Nations.

References – Town of Shelburne Re-Examining Land Acknowledgement

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