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Old 04-11-2007, 05:12 AM   #1
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Natives push for inclusion in proposed museum

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FROM:
_http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/LAC.20070410.MUSEUM10/TPStory/TPNational/Ontario/_ (http://ww/
w.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/LAC.20070410.MUSEUM10/TPStory/TPNational/Ontario/)
HISTORY
Natives push for inclusion in proposed museum
Planning of facility ignores 11,000 years of Toronto's past, leaders argue

KATE HARRIES
Special to The Globe and Mail

Descendants of the people who first lived in what is now the Toronto area say
they're being left out of the planning for a proposed museum that would set
out the region's history.
"I'm so disappointed," said Kawartha Nishnawbe Chief Kris Nahrgang, who's one
of many aboriginal leaders who have been pushing for a facility to house
artifacts dug up from archeological sites across the city. "Our culture's
beautiful. I'm just so sad that they don't acknowledge it."
Recent developments in the Toronto Museum Project, as it's known, include
identification of a possible site -- a 3.6-acre city-owned parcel at the foot of
Bathurst Street next to the old Canada Malting Co. silo. Former Toronto
mayor David Crombie and former Parkdale MP Sarmite Bulte have accepted positions
on the launch board as honorary chair and chair, respectively.
Mr. Nahrgang said he's upset that the project has progressed to this point
without any attempt to engage descendants of the people who inhabited this area
for 11,000 years.

Rita Davies, executive director of the city's culture division, insists that
native concerns are integral to the project. "We're at the very early stages
of this project," she said. "There is every intention that there will be
native representation."

But Luc Laine, the Huron Wendat Nation's cultural liaison representative for
Ontario, said it's a common aboriginal experience for consultation to start
after key decisions have been made. "We say in French, it's a fait accompli --
so that's exactly what we're trying to change."
Archeological consultant Ron Williamson is a strong supporter of a museum
that would tell the city's story. But he worries that the project's focus is the
colonial period and the modern multicultural era -- the most recent 250
years, not the previous 11,000 years.
"The fact that we could have a decade of conversation about a museum without
first nations playing a significant role in that conversation -- that is
astounding," he said, suggesting that an aboriginal representative should have
been among the first selections to the board.
"We just wanted to make sure we had the beginning of a leadership team," Ms.
Davies responds. A proposal will probably go to Toronto council this fall at
which time the decision will be made about the site and a launch board
established.
Ms. Davies said the culture division was asked to come up with ideas for
redevelopment of the Bathurst Street site, which is distinguished by the "iconic
feature of the silos -- so we have that as a really strong symbol of the
industrial past."
Fundraising will be a significant element of the board's responsibilities. A
2004 feasibility study for Humanitas, as the museum project was dubbed at
that time, suggested $130-million but that may be scaled down to the
$100-million range, she said.
Ms. Davies said that the feasibility study did involve consultation with
numerous organizations and individuals, including native groups. The report
lists 380 participants, among them half a dozen representatives from
organizations such as the Native Canadian Centre of Toronto and the Toronto Métis
Council.
But that was not meaningful consultation, Mr. Nahrgang said, because while
those urban organizations perform important functions as friendship centres,
they don't represent local communities.
"It's just not right, you're not talking to the right people, and that's why
consultation is not proper when it's done in that manner," he said. "You need
to be speaking with the chiefs and councils, with the legitimate people who
speak for this area."
Mr. Nahrgang has spearheaded the organization of a founding first nations
circle to respond to government, developers and any other groups on issues
involving cultural artifacts and sacred sites.
Currently engaged in a variety of negotiations regarding archeological sites,
ossuaries and burial grounds in the GTA, the circle is made up of six
people, with two representatives from each of the principal aboriginal groups in
this area -- the Huron, the Iroquois and the Ojibwa.
The principal native groups that left their historic imprint on this area are
the Huron Wendat, the Kawartha Nishnawbe, the Mississaugas of the New
Credit, and the Six Nations.
Mr. Laine said the museum would be a wonderful opportunity to teach people --
especially newcomers to Canada -- about aboriginal customs and culture.
Toronto is a Huron word, meaning "meeting place," he noted. The Huron settled the
north shore of Lake Ontario up to Georgian Bay but were driven out, to
Quebec, where they now live.
He said Huron Wendat Grand Chief Max Gros-Louis has been trying to arrange a
meeting with Mayor David Miller for several months to discuss cultural issues
and the need to preserve and showcase Toronto's native history.
Don Wanagas, a spokesman for the mayor, said his office is trying to schedule
a meeting with Mr. Gros-Louis in May. "As for the Toronto museum, the mayor
is adamant that first nations representatives must be involved in any such
project," he said. "However, the museum is only a proposal at this point in
time."
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