Mayors from Oil Springs and Petrolia among those opposed
Lambton County councillors will acknowledge the Indigenous people who lived here before European settlers arrived before each council meeting.
But not all the politicians agree the act of reconciliation is necessary at every meeting.
County councillors first agreed to post the Land Acknowledgement in county buildings in July. But they didn’t approve the idea of the warden or other councillors reading the acknowledgement at each meeting.
Lambton Shores Mayor Bill Weber asked for council to reconsider the idea Wednesday which council approved but not without opposition.
Three councillors, Sarnia City/County Councillor Margaret Bird, Oil Springs Mayor Ian Veen and Petrolia Mayor Brad Loosley wanted first delay the vote and later asked the acknowledgement only be on the top of an agenda in written form.
“I would be alright with this being on the head of every agenda,” said Veen. And that way, councillors would have a time to take it and truly reflect on what’s being said. I don’t believe that we we need to say it in every meeting.”
“I have to question why wouldn’t we do this once or twice a year? Do we need to do it at every single meeting?” said Loosley.
“My other concern is are we setting a precedent for other groups that may want to come and say ‘I want this read for me or for us every meeting?'”
St. Clair Mayor Steve Arnold voiced concern he didn’t really understand the acknowledgement. “I, for one, do not understand what’s ancestral land we would be talking about, and how we would ever do it without having their consent,” he said.
Arnold suggested members of the local First Nations educate county council. Sarnia City/County Councillor Brian White thought it was a good idea “so that when we read these words at the beginning of every meeting, they’re not just empty words that we truly understand and can process the value of the words.”
The Indigenous leaders will be asked to provide an education session in the future.