Gathering Rooms in Ontario – Building on Political Accord

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Indigenous women Elders The Eagle Feathers and Smudge along with tobacco at City Hall - Image taken with permission
The Eagle Feathers and Smudge along with tobacco at Thunder Bay City Hall - Image taken with permission
Smudging is an ages old tradition in Canada's First Nations culture.
Smudging is an ages old tradition in Canada’s First Nations culture.

THUNDER BAY – New ceremonial Gathering Rooms, are meeting rooms that allow First Nation ceremonies are part of Ontario’s efforts towards reconciliation and a stronger relationship with Aboriginal partners according to the Ontario Government.

The move comes as a growing partnership with the Chiefs of Ontario and is a demonstration of action in the new Political Accord signed by the Premier and Ontario Regional Chief Isadore Day.

Ontario Premier Wynne states, “With the opening of the Gathering Rooms, we are acknowledging and embracing the Aboriginal experience and supporting our work to enhance Aboriginal voices within government. It is but one of many steps on our journey of healing and reconciliation and reflects our government’s commitment to work with Ontario’s Aboriginal communities as partners, creating a better future for everyone in our province.”

Called “The Gathering Rooms,” the rooms are the first of their kind in Ontario and offer a space to conduct meetings using traditional Aboriginal ceremonies.

A dedicated ventilation system will safely allow smudging practices, including the burning of traditional medicines such as sweetgrass, sage, cedar and tobacco.

The new space is part of Ontario’s ongoing efforts to strengthen relationships with Aboriginal partners, a key part of the government’s Treaty Strategy. The Strategy is aimed at improving socio-economic outcomes for Aboriginal peoples through stronger partnerships and engagement with Aboriginal communities and a greater awareness of the importance of treaties.

There is a room for this in place at the Courthouse in Thunder Bay.

Chiefs of Ontario and the provincial government in Ontario have been in regular discussions over the past months, discussing issues including education, health, quality of living for Ontario’s growing First Nations population.

Ontario Regional Chief Day with a group of supporters
Ontario Regional Chief Day with a group of supporters

The Gathering Rooms also provide Ontario Public Service staff with an opportunity to learn about First Nations, Inuit and Métis cultures and traditions. Many of the recommendations from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission refer to the importance of education, and building a stronger awareness of our shared history.

Building positive relationships with Aboriginal peoples is part of the government’s plan for Ontario. The four-part plan is building Ontario up by investing in people’s talents and skills, making the largest investment in public infrastructure in Ontario’s history, creating a dynamic, supportive environment where business thrives, and building a secure retirement savings plan.

Indigenous women Elders The Eagle Feathers and Smudge along with tobacco at City Hall - Image taken with permission
The Eagle Feathers and Smudge along with tobacco at Thunder Bay City Hall – Image taken with permission

Quick Facts

Smudging is a traditional ceremony practised by some Aboriginal cultures to purify the mind, body and spirit. Sweetgrass and sage are the medicines that will be used most in The Gathering Rooms. Tobacco and cedar may be used for other traditional ceremonies including pipe ceremonies.

The rooms have a separate ventilation system that meets or exceeds building code requirements.

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