BARRIE ON – The Chiefs of the Anishinabek Nation Southeast Region are sounding the alarm over the recent defacement of a Sacred Site in Bon Echo Provincial Park, bringing attention to the deliberate vandalism of Mazinaw Rock.
Mazinaw Rock has held the status of a designated national historic site of Canada since 1982. It stands as the largest rock pictograph site on the southern Canadian Shield, uniquely accessible to the public in southern Ontario. To the Anishinabek Nation communities in the Southeast Region and beyond, it holds profound significance, boasting more intricate and detailed abstract symbols compared to other similar sites.
Anishinabek Nation Grand Council Chief Reg Niganobe expressed his dismay, saying, “It is appalling to see this purposeful desecration and vandalism to Mazinaw Rock. This site is a living testament to the history of the Anishinaabe and other nations who used these waterways as traveling routes for generations. This blatant destruction is a deliberate attempt to further erase our history and deprives us and future generations of rightful access to our spiritual and sacred sites.”
The official historic designation of Mazinaw Rock had been welcomed as an effort to preserve their living history. Chief Niganobe emphasized, “We appreciated the effort to preserve our living history through the protection of this sacred site; however, it is more than a historic site. There are over 250 pictographs on the rocks at Mazinaw Lake that feature spiritual and cultural elements holding immeasurable value to our peoples; it is a link to our past, present, and future. We all have the responsibility to ensure that Mazinaw Rock is protected for the benefit of the generations to come.”
The Anishinabek Nation plans to engage with Parks Canada and the Province of Ontario to collaborate on the proper cleaning of the site, incorporating cultural protocols and the involvement of local community Elders and Knowledge Keepers. Additionally, leadership recommends exploring further protection measures to prevent such acts of vandalism in the future.
Furthermore, the Anishinabek Nation is appealing to the public to come forward with any information leading to those responsible for this desecration. Chief Niganobe classified this act as a hate crime rooted in discrimination and racism, demanding it be treated accordingly, stating, “When this type of hateful activity is displayed towards the successor state and their institutions, it is taken seriously, and resources are expended to ensure that the perpetrators face the appropriate consequences. We deserve and expect that same recourse of action.”
The Anishinabek Nation serves as a political advocate for 39 member First Nations across Ontario, representing approximately 65,000 citizens. It holds the distinction of being the oldest political organization in Ontario, tracing its roots back to the Confederacy of Three Fires, which existed long before European contact.