County will explore adding messaging to encourage public discussion and education
Picton – The “Holding Court” John A. Macdonald statue will remain in its current location on Picton Main Street following a decision by County Council at a special meeting on Tuesday, November 17.
“This process has sparked considerable debate and discussion within the community, and opened our eyes to the importance of these conversations,” Mayor Steve Ferguson says. “We have a greater understanding of Macdonald, his times, and the issues that Indigenous Peoples have faced and continue to deal with to this day. As a Council, we understand that considerable work remains in the process of reconciliation and creating respectful relationships between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal peoples in our community.”
The County will explore ways messaging can be added to encourage public discussion and education adhering to the guiding principles of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s recommendations. To develop the messaging, Council directed staff to consult, with legal advice, the Macdonald Project Group, Ruth Abernethy, the sculptor who created the work, Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte, and other Indigenous groups with ties to Prince Edward County.
The motion passed by Council also directed staff to develop a public art policy reaffirming Prince Edward County’s commitment to anti-racist attitudes and to inclusiveness of marginalized peoples in its community. The policy, to be developed in consultation with the Prince Edward County Arts Council, will be presented to Council at a Committee of the Whole meeting no later than September 30, 2021.
Council’s decision followed several months of public consultation through a special working group and the Prince Edward Heritage Advisory Committee. The reports and background material can be found in the special Council meeting agenda package. At the special meeting, 20 people provided deputations and offered comments for Council’s consideration.
Council has recently taken steps to build a stronger relationship with neighbouring Indigenous communities. Staff is currently writing a report detailing the required steps in repatriating Forester’s Island to the Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte (MBQ). Council has also supported creating a Memorandum of Understanding in collaboration with Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte to build a new era of cultural and economic development opportunities between the two governments.
Furthermore, the County is exploring the possibility of organizing an annual June meeting between members of Prince Edward County Council and the Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte Council. The County has committed to developing, implementing and promoting of a program that celebrates local Indigenous persons throughout National Indigenous Month in June 2021.
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