Positive steps

Dawson Mihichuk

Dear editor:

We live in a fateful time. The pandemic and the loss of our paper mill will have long-lasting impacts on our community’s future. How we come out of this difficult time will depend on the relationships we build between citizens and neighbouring communities.

Fortunately, our current council recognizes this need, and has repeatedly shown a desire to improve relationships with neighbouring First Nations. In fact, they have made a number of positive steps and changes such as:

· A new strategic plan which includes improving relationships with neighbouring First Nation communities as a priority;

· Deciding to include a territorial acknowledgement at the start of council meetings and to replace the traditional Christian prayer with a more inclusive moment of reflection; and

· A declaration of Friendship with the four Agency One First Nations – a landmark relationship document that is publicly available on the town’s website. This document has marked a turning point in dialogue between our leaders, as Mayor June Caul’s regular updates to council attest.The thing is that real change – and reconciliation – requires taking action and making visible strides to signal our intention and the sincerity of our words. That’s why the current effort to engage in dialogue about colonization and to ultimately find a more suitable name for Colonization Road is so critical.

Chief Francis Kavanaugh stated last week in your paper, “[I]t is very difficult to believe reconciliatory promises and requests of cooperation when there has not been basic efforts to address the colonial legacy present in the region. Until our partners take the small steps of addressing issues such as these, it may be difficult – if not impossible – to progress to a point where we may begin coming together to address the larger problems we face moving forward.”

Small towns are, by their nature, resistant to change. However, renaming Colonization Road and having honest discussions about the reasons why this is necessary will be a critical step forward for Fort Frances to make good on its commitments.

We are all treaty people. Let’s get it done and equip our community for the road ahead – one best travelled together.


Dawson Mihichuk