Gatineau creates regional Aboriginal liaison position to strengthen ties with Algonquin Nation
The City of Gatineau has established a new regional Aboriginal liaison position to encourage collaboration with the Algonquin Nation, as part of the process of Indigenization of higher education establishments in the Outaouais. Indigenization involves the intentional incorporation of Indigenous peoples, their cultures, philosophies, and knowledge into strategic plans, governance roles, curriculum development and review, research, and professional development.
The new liaison position is expected to enhance the relationship between the Algonquin Anishinabeg First Nation of Kitigan Zibi, the City of Gatineau, and three educational institutions, by facilitating the transfer of information, knowledge, and expertise and promoting trust and understanding between the communities.
According to France Bélisle, Mayor of the City of Gatineau, the establishment of the position should help to consolidate trust between the Algonquin Anishinabeg First Nation of Kitigan Zibi, the City of Gatineau, and three educational institutions. The Kitigan Zibi Band Council will be consulted in the staffing process to ensure a collaborative and respectful approach. Dylan Whiteduck, Chief of the Algonquin Anishinabeg Nation of Kitigan Zibi, welcomed the City's gesture of openness, stating that any initiative that promotes the development of good relationships creates the winning conditions for fruitful partnerships.
In addition to creating the new liaison position, the City of Gatineau plans to rename Amherst Street to Wìgwàs, which means white birch in the Anishinabeg language, recognizing the white birch's central role in the Algonquin culture. The proposed name will be submitted to the City council for validation and then to the Commission de toponymie du Québec for formalization, as the process of toponymic modification of Amherst Street was initiated by the Toponymic Committee in collaboration with the Kitigan Zibi Anishinabeg community in September 2021.
This is a significant move towards reconciliation with the Indigenous peoples in the region. For decades, Indigenous communities in Canada have faced systemic discrimination, cultural genocide, and forced assimilation. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada has documented the devastating effects of residential schools, which were a key tool in the Canadian government's attempt to assimilate Indigenous children into mainstream Canadian society.
It is crucial to make efforts to build strong relationships with Indigenous peoples to promote reconciliation and address the ongoing legacy of colonialism. The City of Gatineau's decision to create a new liaison position and collaborate with the Algonquin Nation demonstrates its commitment to building a more inclusive community that recognizes and respects Indigenous cultures, traditions, and knowledge.
Through this collaboration, the City of Gatineau can improve communication, understanding, and cooperation with the Algonquin Nation. Such efforts can benefit the entire community, not just Indigenous peoples. Therefore, these steps taken by the City of Gatineau are an essential move towards reconciliation and creating a more inclusive and respectful community.