Content-type: text/html ~ Stephen's Web ~ Proposal to Rename Park Presented to Council

Stephen Downes

Knowledge, Learning, Community

Feb 06, 2012

Posted to Moncton Free Press, February 6, 2012

Shawna Gagné and Pascal Pelletier played a short video and presented their case to Council in a bid to have the city fly the Mi'kmaq flag and rename Riverfront Park.

The two recently opened the Klu’Skap Gallery featuring Mi'kmaq art and culture in downtown Moncton.

They noted the City's support for National Aboriginal Day.

"Moncton will clearly be sending a positve message to all our citizens and visitors that we are proud of our aboriginal heritage," said Gange.

There have been no current recognititions of the aboriginal heritage, no street names, no park names, and there is only one in the name bank, she said.

And yet the city, which rests at the bend on the Petitcodiuac river, is at a location of aboriginal significance.

"We are here to open a dialogue," said Pelletier. They asked for a permanent marker of the aboriginal contribution to the community, including the renaming of the park, which would be announced at this year's Aboriginal Day.

"The identity of aborininal people is linked to family and land. The land is our mother and deserves our respect," said Pelletier.

"Moncton, in Canada, is recognized as a multicultural society. This will see that aboriginal culture and history become a part of our community."

We are not talking about a lack of representation of the First Nations, he said, but a complete absence of representation. While there is some representation of aboriginal culture in events hosted by the city, more needs to be done, and aboriginals need to be included in the planning of such events.

The first Native art gallery in the region was located in Moncton because of its central location and multicultural heritage. The next step is to build relations with other communities in the city.

Though they made a request to rename the park, said Gangné, they were not (as expected) asking for the flag - such requests are significant and require the following of proper protocol.

"On principle we are in agreemment with what you have to say today," said Council Member Paulette Thériault. She asked staff how to follow up, and was told the presenters had met with the Cultural Board, which had also agreed in principle with the request, and that it would be up to the Cultural Board to bring a recommendtaion to Council.

Council Member Steven Boyce suggested that Council would need to consult with the Chiefs of the Mi'kmaq people and the Assembly of First Nations, because they work top-down, he said. "The way to go forward with the question is by inviting Chiefs to meet with us, and it will be up to them to advise us how they want their nation recognized in the region."

Saying she didn't want to be the bearer of bad news, Deputy Mayor Kathryn Barnes noted that "Riverfront Parek was already named Settler's Green in 1998." The signeage was not raised because the riverfront was being developed. "To go back and rethink that would be very difficult to do in view of the many groups it already recognized. I don't know why this information wasn't given to you - we were told you wouldn't be presenting this evening or I would have raised it earlier."

Stephen Downes Stephen Downes, Casselman, Canada

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