All of Muskoka’s municipalities have signed the Muskoka Indigenous Leadership Table Friendship Accord.
“The Muskoka Area Indigenous Leadership Table is an important forum that has helped strengthen relationships between not only Indigenous Nations and the municipalities in Muskoka, but also between participating Indigenous Nations,” Says Chief Ted Williams, of the Chippewas of Rama First Nation. “The Friendship Accord will ensure that even as membership changes at the table, the MAILT will continue to meet, strengthen relationships and mutual understanding, and continue to strive for mutual benefits.”
There will be at least four meetings a year, according to the accord, and members will “engage in open and constructive dialogue.” An annual forum will be organized by the district as well to go over long-term project planning that may impact Indigenous communities and give them a chance to give input. Working groups could be created “from time to time,” according to the accord, to work on projects and allow for better communication.
In the accord, it’s noted that the document is a “living agreement,” meaning it could change over time as the Muskoka Area Indigenous Leadership Table changes.
The accord was signed on Chippewas of Rama First Nation territory on Oct. 6. The mandate of the accord is to “strengthen relations between Indigenous Nations and municipalities and to identify actions that will benefit all residents and communities within Muskoka.”
The mayors of Muskoka’s six municipalities signed the accord, including the outgoing Mayor of Gravenhurst Paul Kelly and the former Mayor of Muskoka Lakes Phil Harding.
The now retired District of Muskoka Chair John Klinck signed on behalf of the district. Representatives from the Chippewas of Rama First Nation, Moose Deer Point First Nation, Moon River Métis Council, and Wahta Mohawks First Nation also signed the accord.
“This is a critical forum for moving our communities towards reconciliation and for addressing the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s 94 Calls to Action,” says Klinck. “I’m incredibly proud of the work that has been done at this table.”