Collingwood councillors get lesson on Indigenous awareness
by Ian Adams Collingwood Connection
The warm, sweet odour of white buffalo sage permeates the air in the second floor of the Collingwood Curling Club as Trish Meekins tells the story of the origins of North America and its Indigenous inhabitants.
She and her partner, Bob Rice, have begun Collingwood council’s strategic initiatives committee with a smudging ceremony — an Indigenous tradition designed to purify and cleanse the space, and open the heart and mind.
For more than two hours, Meekins led the councillors down an often dark path through Canada’s history with its Indigenous community: Treaty promises made, and often broken; the Residential School system; the Indian Act; withholding rights — until fairly recent times — to vote, own property, or retain legal advice.
Meekins, a member of Saugeen Ojibway Nation, and a facilitator with Nikaanagaa Counselling and Training Centre, said she regularly speaks with corporate and community organizations about the Indigenous history of North America, and breaks the stereotypes people may hold about First Nations people.
Mayor Brian Saunderson said the session is part of raising the town’s awareness of Indigenous history.