In honour of National Indigenous Peoples Day, the City of Mississauga co-hosted an event with the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation. The event aimed to bring awareness and celebrate Indigenous culture at Celebration Square, the heart of downtown Mississauga.
The event kicked off with a Miichi Sagiig Anishinaabe United Pow Wow, followed by short films presented by ImagineNATIVE that shine a light on the reality the community has faced. One of the featured films, Rose, centred on “The 60s Scoop”. This refers to the long history of Indigenous children being forced out of their homes to be raised by non-Indigenous families, many of which are still missing.
Moses Lunham, a visual artist from the Anishinabek (Ojibway/Chippewa) Nation in Kettle and Stony Point, Ipperwash, Ontario, attended the event. Lunham worked on a live art piece on the gravel floor at Celebration Square with the help of attendees from the event. Guests used a symbolic stamp on the gravel, created by Lunham, with the colours of their choosing.
“We’re creating a painting for the city of Mississauga, and the paintings are inspired by the name of Mississauga, which is an Ojibwe word that means river of many mountains,” said Lunham. “In this painting, there’s a lot of symbolism, a lot of teachings.”
According to Lunham, this art piece is inspired by the many symbols in nature.
“It’s inspired by water as well. My community definitely shares one of the great lakes,” said Lunham. “Water is very important, especially in our community. There’s an eagle as well, which performs a very important role in our spirituality.”
Celebration Square held an array of booths, including Indigenous artwork, educational activities, shops, and food vendors.
Lisa Odjig, a world-champion hoop dancer of the Odawa, Ojibwe, Potawatomi Nation from Wiikwemkoong, Manitoulin Island, took the stage and performed a traditional dance for the crowd.
“The hoop dance traditionally is a storytelling dance, a teaching dance, and a healing dance as well. The hoops create formations, designs and symbols of nature, such as the trees, plants, animals, and birds,” said Odjig. “This dance reminds us how we’re all connected to these beautiful creations of mother earth and also to each other. It’s about celebration and healing.”
Following the dance, Manitou Mkwa Singers (Spirit Bear Singers), a Hand drum group from the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nations, performed.
Mayor of Mississauga Bonnie Crombie delivered a speech to the crowd via video near the end of the event to bring awareness to the importance of National Indigenous Peoples Day.
“We come together as a community to honour and recognize the rich heritage, cultures, and contributions of Indigenous peoples,” said Crombie. “Reconciliation requires us to confront our past, listen to the voices and experiences of Indigenous peoples, and work together towards a future where their rights, culture, and heritage are respected and celebrated.”
Mississauga is the first city in Canada to permanently raise the Every Child Matters flag, standing in solidarity with Indigenous communities.
“We proudly display the Mississaugas of the Credit flag in our council chambers as a reminder of the Indigenous community we are named after,” said Crombie. “Today is not only a day for Indigenous peoples. It is an opportunity for all Canadians to learn more.”