Arts & Culture Good to Know

Miigwetch (Thank You!) for Crane Gathering Space on Credit Valley Trail

Cloth cutting ceremony
Written by Dan O’Reilly

Photo above: Credit Valley Conservation and partners take part in a ceremonial cloth cutting during the opening ceremony at the Crane Gathering Space. From left to right: Scott Cafarella, Manager, Capital Projects, CVC; Diem Marchand-Lafortune, Cree Treaty Six; Elder Carolyn King, MCFN; Quentin Hanchard, CAO CVC; Dale Kewageshig, Saugeen First Nation; Dr. Jonathan Ferrier, Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation; Elder Gary Sault, MCFN. (Photo Credit: Dan O’Reilly)

Elder Garry Sault singing

Elder Garry Sault, Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation, opens the Crane Gathering Space ceremony with a song. (Photo credit: Dan O’Reilly)

Traditional songs, the lighting of a sacred fire, smudging, and a symbolic cloth cutting were highlights of a special June 7th ceremony at Island Lake Conservation Area in Orangeville.

The joint Credit Valley Conservation-Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation (MCFN) ceremony acknowledged the original Indigenous presence in the Credit River watershed. That was achieved with the official opening of the newly constructed Crane Gathering Space at the northern terminus of the still-under-development Credit Valley Trail (CVT).

It is the first of, what will be seven, Anishinaabe dodem (clan) sites whose purpose is bring is to bring Indigenous culture and experiences to life along the trail.

All seven sites will feature interpretive signage, public art installations, trail markers and other culturally appropriate amenities. These sites will incorporate Indigenous storytelling, teachings and symbology.

The CVT Indigenous Roundtable, an Indigenous led committee with community representatives from the MCFN, Cree and Huron-Wendat First Nations, collaborated with its conservation authority and CVT partners to develop it.

CVC and the IRT worked with Indigenous architects, landscape architects, fabricators and artisans to supply critical components of the space’s design and construction.

CVC staff standing at event

CVC staff Holly Nadalin (Manager, Community Outreach, Education and CVC Foundation), Ashley Cook-Tombia (Chief Human Resources Officer) and Terri LeRoux (Director, Parks, Lands and Community Engagement) at the opening of the Crane Gathering Space. (Photo credit: Dan O’Reilly)

Drawing inspiration from the Sandhill Crane which uses Island Lake as a stopover site during its annual migration, the concept vision for the space was developed by Smoke Architecture and Tropic Design through the conservation authority’s Island Lake Management Plan.

“We’re honoured to celebrate alongside our Indigenous partners as we officially open the Crane Gathering Space,” CVC board member and Town of Mono Deputy Mayor Fred Nix told the attendees.

“This is an important day as we continue to work with Indigenous communities to help advance the goals of truth and reconciliation. This space affirms the continued presence of Indigenous Peoples as caretakers of the Credit River watershed and will be an inclusive space for everyone in our community.”

A three-quarter million dollar Federal Government investment helped make the project a reality, Credit Valley Conservation chief administrative officer Quentin Hanchard told the invited guests.

Also, the secretary-treasurer of the Credit Valley Conservation Foundation, Hanchard said the project partners are deeply grateful to the federal government’s support and “and continued commitment to meaningful reconciliation.”

“It is in this spirit of reciprocity, in reaffirming the continued Indigenous presence and stewardship of these lands, that the idea for the Crane Gathering Space came into being.”

Touching on the creation of the Credit Valley Trail, which was envisioned in the authority’s first watershed plan in 1956, he said the trail will re-establish a continuous pathway along the Credit from its headwaters (where the ceremony was held) to its mouth at Lake Ontario in Mississauga.

It is a pathway walked by Indigenous peoples “since time immemorial” and indigenizing the trail has been central to the overall vision, said Hanchard.

Elder Carolyn King speaking

Elder Carolyn King, Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation, speaks on behalf of MCFN at the opening of the Crane Gathering Space. (Photo credit: Dan O’Reilly)

Also speaking at the event was MCNF Elder Carolyn King.

“The opening of the Crane Gathering Space has been many years in the making and is now open for all people to celebrate. I’m very pleased and very honoured to be part of its planning and now implementation, from the early ideas and the people involved in the design and those that made it all happen.

“It’s a beautiful project. Miigwetch [thank you] to the Credit Valley Conservation and all the staff for being part of the project starting from the Indigenous Experience Plan, supporting it and making it happen.”

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About the author

Dan O’Reilly

Dan O’Reilly is a freelance writer specializing in design and construction, the environment, and historical preservation. He is also a regular contributor to the Daily Commercial News and Ontario Home Builder, the official magazine of the Ontario Home Builders Association.

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