Part One: Introduction
I wish to share my newly acquired knowledge about the roots of my community in this paper. It is essential to understand and remember the origin of the land you reside in, since the land you live in is technically not ours but is officially owned by others. I feel that the objective of this homelands paper is to assist me in uncovering the Indigenous ancestry of the area where I grew up. The issue of my Indigenous origins is one that no one loves to discuss and has been off-limits in my family for years, but writing this paper at least allows me to learn about the history and current happenings of the reservations from where my ancestors originated. Consequently, I will offer my knowledge and what I’ve learned about the indigenous people of Whitby, Ontario, Canada, where I presently reside.
In the Durham Region in southern Ontario, Canada, you’ll find the little town of Whitby, which also happens to be one of the biggest communities in the city of Toronto. It is situated in Southern Ontario, east of Ajax, as well as west of Oshawa, on the northern coast of Lake Ontario, and is the location of the Durham Region’s administrative headquarters. At the time of the census in 2021, the city had a total population of 138,501 people. It is situated around 20 kilometers (12 miles) to the east of Scarborough, and it is recognized as a commuter suburb in the eastern portion of the Greater Toronto Area (Where Is Whitby, ON, Canada on Map Lat Long Coordinates, n.d.). The southern portion of Whitby is predominately urban and an economic hub. In contrast, the northern portion of the municipal government is more rural and includes the societies of Ashburn, Brooklin, Myrtle, and Macedonian Village. The southern portion of the municipality is also known as the Greater Toronto Area (GTA). Since the day I was born, my parents and I have made the Town of Whitby our permanent home.
Location of Whitby on a map
In 2011, 1,485 people in Whitby, Ontario, or 1.2% of the total population, identified as having an Aboriginal heritage (Statistics Canada, 2013). Of them, 60.6% (900) solely claimed to have First Nations ancestry, 30.6% (455) only reported having Métis ancestry, and 6.7% (100) only reported having Inuit ancestry. A further 25 people, or 1.7%, claimed to have other Aboriginal identities, while 0 people, or 0%, reported having more than one Aboriginal identification. The residents in Ontario mostly identify as either Irish (17.1%), English (19.9%), Scottish (16.7%), Canadian (13.7%), Italian (6.4%), Indian (6.0%), French (5.4%), German (6.2%),), British Isles (4.8%), Jamaican (3.5%), Chinese (4.3%), Dutch (3.4%), or Polish (3.0%) First Nations (0.8%) and Métis (0.7%) persons accounted for the majority of the indigenous population’s 1.5% share of the total. Europe accounted for 63.1% of the population, Asia for 12.0%, Africa for 9.1%, East Asia for 3.6%, South East Asia for 2.6%, West Asia for 1.6%, Latin America for 1.2%, the Middle East for 1.0%, and Southeast Asia for 0.5%.
Part Two: The history of Indigenous peoples
The Town of Whitby is pleased to recognize the lands and individuals of the Mississaugas of Scugog Island First Nation, which the Williams Treaties protect. On both June 18 and June 21, 2022, Whitby observed National Indigenous Peoples Day (National Indigenous Peoples Day, 2021). This was a day for all Canadians to acknowledge and celebrate the distinctive history, diversified traditions, and exceptional accomplishments of First Nations, Inuit, and Métis peoples. Whitby is located on the ancestral lands of the Mississaugas, a part of the larger Anishinaabeg Nation, which also includes the Algonquin, Ojibway, Odawa, and Potawatomi.
The Mississauga people of Scugog Island migrated to southern Ontario from their original homeland in the northern part of Lake Huron sometime in the year 1700 (Origin & History, 2019). The Mississauga are one branch of the larger Ojibwa Nation, one of the biggest indigenous communities in Canada. Native Mississauga people used to get all they needed from “Mother Earth,” the environment around them, through hunting, fishing, and gathering plants for food and medicine. Mistreated wild rice was a staple crop that was planted in shallow ponds and collected at the end of summer. The ancient homes of the Mississauga were modest birch bark wigwams that were either dome-shaped or conical. The Mississauga First Nations wigwams have nothing to do with the trendy new term “tipi,” which has become popular in the entertainment industry since it is the word for “house” in a distinct First Nation dialect spoken by certain western prairies. The Peterborough Canoe Museum in Ontario, Canada, preserved a few Wigwams.
The Mississauga people made their first appearance in the Lake Scugog basin in the early 1700s. They were overjoyed and grateful when they discovered a wealth of riches inside the untouched trees and the clear water that had not been polluted by human activity. On the shores of the lake, where the water was shallower, wild rice was able to thrive and grow. There was also a large variety of flora and fauna, and the seas were teeming with water-dwelling animals, feathered creatures, and fish. After that, the government started establishing treaties with the Ojibwa and Mississauga people to make land acquisition easier (Origin & History, 2019). The native people were unfamiliar with either the language or the concept the newcomers had introduced. As a result of the indigenous people’s lack of education, they were unaware that the land permanently belonged to them; as a result, they ended up selling their most valuable item, which was considered their most valuable asset. The treaties allowed for the native land to be taken by government officials with little or no compensation to the local people. This occurred after the native people signed the treaties. An example was given of how a defective treaty led to a significant portion of land, measuring about 100 miles by 12 miles, being appropriated by government officials, who subsequently acknowledged that this action was unethical and in violation of the treaty. The non-native settlers, due to their lack of education and intelligence, took advantage of the original people and stole their land.
Most of the area that had belonged to the Mississauga inhabitants had been settled by non-natives by 1843. The indigenous people had to figure out how to support themselves without any assistance from the government. To secure a reliable food supply, the government advocated for them to take up farming. As more people moved to the Scugog region, the Mississauga people were left with just 320 acres of farmable land on the island itself. Although they were the original inhabitants of several square kilometers of territory west of Lake Scugog, the Mississauga were compelled to buy the property on which it now stands. For almost a century, indigenous peoples had to fight for basic needs in a devastated environment. They had a go at farming, but their efforts were unsuccessful (Origin & History, 2019). They shifted gears and began trading fur, amassing and peddling hand-woven baskets in exchange for little profits. People from the original communities migrated to the larger urban centers in search of employment opportunities. The residents of Mississauga were impacted severely by this. Trade conflicts, the Sixties Scoop, and population decrease all contributed to the difficult circumstances in which they existed. The residents of Mississauga overcame obstacles by developing an innovative business model. It was with the intention of providing much-needed funds for local projects that the Blue Heron Casino debuted in 1997.
The Williams Treaties
To prevent land injustices against First Nation communities, the Canadian government made a proposal in 1923. The seven indigenous groups had title to three sizable parcels of land. The government and the First Nations people made a joint pact and grabbed three parcels of land in the watersheds of Georgian Bay and Lake Ontario. Williams Treaties is a common name for these agreements. The government confiscated some sizable territory, with the first two parcels covering over 2,400 square miles and the third resting at around 17,600 square miles(Surtees, 1986). All of the lands was too big. As a result, no talks took place before the government’s forceful acquisition of the property. Officials from the government utilized their authority to alter the agreement conditions between the parties earlier in the same year. The government used much of the land without paying the Mississauga and the Chippewa or providing them with alternatives, despite the fact that the treaties had not yet been enacted. Possible government reason for action includes concern about land being used too soon(Surtees, 1986). The Indians and their lands are under the jurisdiction of the Canadian government, but the province of Ontario has jurisdiction over “all Lands, Mines, Minerals, and Royalties.” The British North America Act of 1867 states this to be the case.
In October and November 1923, the government of Canada and seven First Nations groups signed the Williams Treaties. The Treaties were designed to protect indigenous people on their land, but dishonest government officials duped landowners into selling their property in exchange for a lump sum of money. This resulted in years of legal fights between the Mississauga and the government and non-native users of property claimed by the Mississauga and the Chippewa. The Canadian government allocated $100 million over five years to help Indigenous people rebuild their Nations and culture in 2018 as part of an attempt to repair the damaged connection between the two groups. With this help, Indigenous communities will be able to find their footing, restore their administrative structures, and create sustainable economies. The Canadian government made an official apology to Indigenous people via the Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations for the harmful effects of the 1923 Williams Treaties with the First Nations (Surtees, 1986). The minister detailed how the Treaties’ original intent was to handle settlement concerns in order to avoid encroachment but how they ended up causing injustices instead due to inadequate compensation, inadequate resettlements, and restrictions on individual liberty. The minister has pledged to make up for past wrongdoing by enlarging Indigenous peoples’ reserve land bases and re-examining the pre-Confederation treaty in order to respect it and honor the rights and freedoms of the First Nation people. By re-examining and honoring the Williams Treaties, the Canadian government and Indigenous communities may begin to restore confidence in themselves.
Whitby, Ontario, is home to several unique place names that each have their own history and significance. Some current English and French place names weren’t always utilized; indigenous people had taken it upon themselves to assign names to various locations and weren’t doing it randomly. Whitby derived its name from the English port city of Whitby. East of Toronto is the townships of York, Scarborough, Pickering, Whitby, and Darlington, all named after cities in the northeast of England by the surveyor who did the first survey in 1792. As a result of the Danish invasion of Britain in 867 A.D., the name “Whitby” originates in Danish(Mike@bitaboutbritain, 2021). White Village, from which the name is shortened, is the inspiration for this name. Possible references include the white lighthouses on the Whitby, Yorkshire pier, and the one in Whitby, Ontario. Peter Perry, the city’s founder, didn’t open up shop in the heart of Whitby until 1836, despite the fact that the first settlers arrived there in the year 1800 (About Whitby Township, n.d.).
From the 1830s until 1996, the government of Canada funded and churches ran a system of residential schools. According to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, they were “a deliberate, government-sponsored campaign to eliminate Aboriginal traditions and languages and to integrate Aboriginal people such that they no longer existed as separate peoples.” No one knows how many residential schools were spread throughout Canada, but at least 18 were located in Ontario alone. The Ontario government has pledged to cooperate with Indigenous community leaders to locate, investigate, save, and memorialize former residential school grounds throughout the province. When it opened in 1838, Alnwick Residential School was the first of its kind north of Durham Region, and its stated mission was to eradicate the “Indian in the kid” by forcibly acclimating the Indigenous peoples to European culture. Existence In 1874, the federal government began a practice known as “Indian residential schools,” in which children were taken from their families and placed in boarding schools (Frideres, 2011). Within “a generation or two,” the government hoped to make all Indigenous peoples fully Christian and “white.” The Indian residential schools were responsible for the removal of around 150,000 children from their homes and communities, resulting in the loss of countless lives. Many kids were mistreated because they didn’t speak English, and many were hungry, cold, naked, and unwashed because of it. Even though the last Indian residential school was shut down as recently as 1996, its legacy continues to be felt today. Parents who saw such terrible acts as children frequently pass their resentment and cruelty on to their own children and other members of their family. Through land acknowledgments, the federal government is attempting reconciliation.
Part Three: The contemporary presence of the Indigenous community in your region.
The province of Ontario is home to 23 percent of all Indigenous peoples living in Canada. The province of Ontario is home to 133 First Nations communities, which together constitute at least seven of the province’s most prominent cultural and linguistic groupings. In Ontario, more First Nations communities are located in isolated areas than in any other region. Cities like Thunder Bay, Sudbury, Sault Ste. Marie, Timmins, Ottawa, and Toronto are examples of urban areas home to sizeable Indigenous communities that reside outside their respective reserves. In 2011, 1,485 people in Whitby, Ontario, or 1.2% of the total population, identified as having an Aboriginal heritage (Statistics Canada, 2013). Of them, 60.6% (900) solely claimed to have First Nations ancestry, 30.6% (455) only reported having Métis ancestry, and 6.7% (100) only reported having Inuit ancestry. A further 25 people, or 1.7%, claimed to have other Aboriginal identities, while 0 people, or 0%, reported having more than one Aboriginal identification.
Métis are a mixed-race group of people with both European and Indigenous roots. The Métis are an Indigenous people that may be found throughout Canada and the United States North, particularly in the Prairie Provinces, British Columbia, the Northwestern territory, and the Northern U.S. They have a common heritage that originates from a particular admixture of European and Indigenous ancestry that, by the middle of the 18th century, during the first years of the North American fur trade, had given rise via ethnogenesis to a unique culture. Marriages between Aboriginal and European people in what is now Canada gave rise to a new cultural and ethnic identity known as Métis. Most Inuit, who are indigenous people, live in Canada’s far north. The term “Inuk” is used to refer to an Inuit individual. The land, sea, and ice of the Arctic are collectively referred to as Inuit Nunangat, the Inuit homeland. The land, sea, and ice that make up the Arctic are collectively referred to as Inuit Nunangat, the Inuit people’s homeland. The land inhabited by Inuit peoples, which includes certain areas in Alaska and Greenland, is also referred to as Inuit Nunangat.
Approximately 23% of Ontario’s Indigenous population calls a reservation home. About 93% of Ontario’s 58,100 reserve residents are members of the First Nations. Roughly 7% of the population considers themselves Métis, Inuit, or other Indigenous or non-Indigenous. Some 127 of the province’s 128 First Nations communities live on the province’s 207 reservations (Indigenous Peoples in Ontario, 2019).In 2020, 221,822 Ontarian Indians were officially counted, with around 44% residing in reserves. The Anishinabek, Cree, Oji-Cree, Haudenosaunee, Delaware, and Algonquin are only a few of the groups that have reserves in Ontario. Northern Ontario is dominated by Cree and Ojibwe reservations. The Saulteaux reserves are located southeast of the Ontario–Manitoba boundary, to the east of Lake Superior. Central Ontario is home to the Nipissing First Nation, which takes its name from the nearby lake. Communities of Chippewa, Ojibwe, Odawa, and Mississauga may be found all across the Great Lakes region.
The Bawaajigewin Aboriginal Community Circle (BACC) is a local non-profit organization that works to improve the lives of the local Indigenous population. Many groups worked together on its creation, including the Carea Community Health Center and the Durham Region Aboriginal Advisory Circle (ABOUT: Bawaajigewin – an Aboriginal Community Circle, n.d.). These alliances were instrumental in the new group identifying a person to serve as a leader for their community meetings. Since the Indigenous community of Durham is often overlooked, BACC has made it one of its missions to change that. To provide a secure environment for fellow community members. They also seek to strengthen, broaden, and protect their unique culture. They hope to expand their network of partners to increase their resources and ensure that the voices of all Indigenous people in the Durham Area are heard. While BACC has chosen to continue identifying as Aboriginal, it is sensitive to the fact that some members of the community may prefer different terms. The BACC celebrates the special abilities that have been bestowed upon every member of the Aboriginal community by God. BACC recognizes the value of being Two-Spirited, respects the unique perspectives that people with disabilities bring to the table, considers the voices of children and young people to be just as important as those of their elders, and honors the heritage of all Aboriginal Nations that call Durham Regio home. When we band together, we’re as powerful as Sweetgrass.
The Bawaajigewin Aboriginal Group’s Symbol
Furthermore, Métis people from around Ontario came together to form the Métis Nation of Ontario (MNO) to establish a governing system unique to the Métis community. The MNO’s claim explains why the MNO exists, who it is meant for, and what it should achieve. Over the last 27 years, this claim has proven crucial to the MNO’s success (Métis People in Ontario Are at Greater Risk for a Number of Cancers, 2022). The Métis Council of Oshawa and Durham serves as the community council under the Métis Nation of Ontario’s charter. The Durham region’s CAREA Community Health Center provides a variety of Indigenous Programs for underserved communities. CAREA Community Health Center is a registered charitable organization serving the communities of Oshawa, Whitby, Ajax, and Pickering by providing a wide range of essential, community-based services to residents of all ages. Some of the services provided by CAREA are as follows: health promotion and care; essential care, directing, and psychological health; diabetes education; hepatitis C screening, treatment support, education, and effort; geriatric assessment and intercession; young parent support; early childhood, youth, Indigenous, and local area improvement programs; and geriatric evaluation and intervention.
Native communities all throughout the world are taking action at the grassroots level to resolve long-standing problems. It’s been mentioned before that when people work together, they can accomplish great things. The First Nations in Ontario, Canada, have realized this, and they’re conducting activities to unite First Nations and non-Indigenous populations. Most indigenous people have experienced feelings of rejection on occasion due to the fact that they are more often than not in a negative environment. One effort on the ground is collecting money to prevent indigenous women and young people from experiencing homelessness and exploitation in the sex trade. Fortunately, the Nogojiwanong Friendship Centre has been a useful resource for promoting just this kind of progress. Many women’s lives have been improved, and independence increased because of this project. Hence it may be considered successful.
Children from First Nations communities often attend schools in the Durham District School Board (DDSB), which has a fantastic Indigenous Education Department. The Department ensures that educators are practicing reconciliation and increasing awareness of the wrongful treatment of the original owners of this land while teaching about First Nations to pupils. The DDSB launched a program in 2018 to help black and Indigenous preschoolers learn before they start kindergarten in an effort to reduce systematic racism (Durham District School Board Indigenous Education, n.d.). The instructors cover the standard curriculum with the preschoolers and include cultural lessons wherever possible. Some of these activities include crafting their own talking sticks out of tree branches and retelling the legend of Turtle Island’s origins in the manner of the seven grandfathers.
Part Four: What next?
Overall, the First Nations community in Whitby, Ontario, Canada, where I now dwell, has received great attention in The Homelands and Treaty Paper. The study has opened my eyes to the realities of Aboriginal life even now, as individuals of this culture continue to exist in our midst. There are several Indigenous peoples whose original territory included the present-day territory of Canada. There are still those living today who are descended from the Aboriginal people who originally occupied these areas. The Mississaugas, who settled in southern Ontario after migrating from the Lake Huron region, regard the city of Toronto as their spiritual and cultural center. Mississaugas people have always worked to preserve their Aboriginal culture by passing on their language and Indigenous rituals and traditions from generation to the next, despite their Indigenous economic activities having changed throughout the years. Canada’s current land policies are reflected in the land treaties made by the Mississaugas people.
I have learned a great deal from my studies in the area in which I now find myself. Despite my best efforts, I was unable to obtain enough information to resolve the many unanswered issues I had after reading this. Having done the study, the issue that continues nagging at me is why the Canadian government has allowed the indigenous people to suffer to such an extent. Why, secondly, did the treaties seem so impractical? Why have indigenous communities failed to seize the moment and fight for their rights? I want to know why it took so long for my neighborhood to pitch in and support our fellow citizens. , Furthermore, what ultimately became of the indigenous populations who had inhabited this area? How far did they disperse throughout Canada? When and why, if ever, did it occur? To what extent did the Residential Schools have an effect on their children? What became to their children? The numerous unanswered questions I was left with are indicative of this. Because I assumed I would learn what I needed to know by reading about it, I was expecting to avoid being left with unanswered questions. Until I was given this task, I had no idea how extensive the treaties really were.
I feel that the younger generation of Indigenous people, who have access to all of today’s resources, have a responsibility to do all in their ability to increase awareness of the importance of reconciliation. Even though I am not of Indigenous descent, I make it a point to keep in mind that the general public’s lack of information about the Indigenous people is not a positive development; after all, it is not right to deny Indigenous people credit for founding this place. The First Nations now have a voice, which is particularly significant in light of the current events surrounding the residential schools. They have to use their voices to ensure that the government listens to them and comprehends the issues they are facing. After all, they are the people who first settled in this country; thus, the government needs to assist the indigenous communities located on reserves, assist the indigenous children placed in foster care, and assist the indigenous communities that are facing drug abuse and suicide.
Part Five: Create a historic plaque for your community.
Canada’s Whitby is adorned with historical plaques to tell the city’s story. Take Ontario Ladies’ College as an example.
It may be found in Durham, Whitby, Ontario, On the corner of Gilbert Street East and Reynolds Street East, on the east side of Reynolds Street. The Ontario Ladies’ College was founded at “Trafalgar Castle,” the former house of Nelson Gilbert Reynolds, Sheriff of Ontario County, and opened in 1874 by the Governor-General, Lord Dufferin (Ontario Ladies’ College Historical Plaque, n.d.-b). Prince Arthur and Sir John A. Macdonald visited “Trafalgar Castle,” which had been constructed in 1859, in 1869. Under the auspices of the Methodist Church, this institution granted degrees and prepared students for further education. Dr. Egerton Ryerson’s name appears on a building addition constructed in 1877, while Lillian Frances Massey Treble’s name appears on a building addition constructed in 1895. From its inception in 1908 until 1915, the Rev. J.J. Hare oversaw the institution as its principal. Lucy Maude Montgomery and Bliss Carman were among the guest professors at the university. The college’s ties to the United Church of Canada date back to its founding in 1925.
Camp X Plaque can be found in Whitby, Ontario, Canada. Camp X was used to train British special agents during WWII, and the connection between the United Kingdom, Canada, and the United States provided a critical lifeline during the conflict (Camp X Historical Marker, n.d.). Camp X was the university where James Bond authors Ian Fleming and Bill Donovan learned their craft during World War II. It was founded by Bill Stephenson, a Winnipeg native and the head of British intelligence during the war. Some 60% of Camp X alums are thought to have perished in the war.
The deadly commandos and secret agents from all over the world who carried out these atrocities all have one thing in common: they were all educated at the same massive spy and sabotage academy on the shores of Lake Ontario in Ontario, Canada. British Prime Minister Mackenzie King was unaware of the existence of the school when it was established to teach Americans and Canadians how to conduct special operations behind enemy lines. Camp X was its official moniker. For many years, no one spoke about what happened at Camp X. What happened there and what its trainees went on to do, was more daring than anything out of a spy novel. An interesting and often-overlooked aspect of World War II is the camp’s role in the development of U.S. intelligence organizations.
My plague will focus on the Métis Nation of Ontario (MNO) (1993-2022)
In 1993, Tony Belcourt and other prominent Métis political figures created the Métis Nation of Ontario (MNO) to advocate for Métis rights and guarantee their views were heard. It’s the only group in Ontario that officially speaks for the Métis community and has government backing. It is made up of provincial and municipal delegates who speak for local Métis communities in talks with national and international administrations.
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Métis people in Ontario are at greater risk for a number of cancers. (2022, October 24). Métis Nation of Ontario. https://www.metisnation.org/news/elementor-33771/
Mike@bitaboutbritain. (2021, June 4). A visit to Whitby. A Bit about Britain. https://bitaboutbritain.com/a-visit-to-whitby/#:~:text=Whitby%20is%20a%20name%20of
National Indigenous Peoples Day. (2021, June 21). Www.whitby.ca. https://www.whitby.ca/en/play/national-indigenous-peoples-day.aspx
Ontario Had At Least 18 Residential Schools & Here’s where they Were. (2021, June 30). Narcity. https://www.narcity.com/toronto/ontario-had-at-least-18-residential-schools–heres-where-they-were
Ontario Ladies’ College Historical Plaque. (n.d.-a). Www.ontarioplaques.com. Retrieved November 18, 2022, from https://www.ontarioplaques.com/Plaques/Plaque_Durham19.html
Origin & History. (2019). Scugogfirstnation.com. https://www.scugogfirstnation.com/Public/Origin-and-History
Statistics Canada. (2013a, May 8). Aboriginal Peoples in Canada: First Nations People, Métis, and Inuit. Statcan.gc.ca. https://www12.statcan.gc.ca/nhs-enm/2011/as-sa/99-011-x/99-011-x2011001-eng.cfm
Surtees, Robert J. The Williams Treaties. Indian and Northern Affairs Canada, 1986.
Where is Whitby, ON, Canada, on Map Lat Long Coordinates? (n.d.). Www.latlong.net. Retrieved November 18, 2022, from https://www.latlong.net/place/whitby-on-canada-20163.htm