By Sean Delaney
On Sept. 6, a gathering of community members and Toronto city councillors at the Etobicoke Civic Centre were presented the future plans to develop one of the first ever Indigenous parks celebrating the culture and diversity of the First Nations people.
Chief Stacey LaForme, chief of the Mississaugas of the New Credit First Nation and three First Nations representatives lauded Toronto’s largest business improvement area’s plans to build an interactive First Nations Park in Emery Village.
The initiative earned unanimous support from Etobicoke York Community Council this week.
Councillor Robert Johnson from the Six Nations of the Grand River was in attendance, as well as Chief Sioui of the Nation Huronne-Wendat and Chief Stacey Laforme of the Mississauga of the new Credit First Nation. Emery Village BIA Board Members, Tony D’Aversa and Tim Lambrinos were also on hand to lend their support.
Later in the meeting, Councillor Mammoliti spoke passionately addressing the issue of reconciliation with Indigenous people.
“As you may be aware, Emery Village has a rich history, much of which was formed by our Indigenous peoples. There is a parcel of land currently occupied by a hydro right-of-way – located South of Finch Avenue West, on the east side of Weston Road – that has been identified by the BIA as an ideal site to develop a park to honour and celebrate the First Nations. This proposal has been developed in a collaborative effort with the Huron Wendat, Six Nations of the Grand River, and Mississaugas of the New Credit,” Mammoliti said.
“This First Nations Park will be an attraction unto itself as an interactive green space for the public,” said Sandra Farina, Executive Director of the Emery Village BIA. “The park will also be a part of a bike path that connects the northwest part of the city to downtown via the Humber River system.”
The Emery Village BIA proposed as well that the park be an educational outlet for the public about the daily activities of Indigenous peoples on the land. The park would be part of a bike path that connects the northwest area of the city to downtown through the Humber River system.
“This park is a great idea if we’re talking about reconciliation,” Stacey LaForme, chief of the Mississaugas of the New Credit First Nation told Councillors. “Canada is still talking about reconciliation. This is an opportunity for education. Education is where reconciliation starts.”
Chief LaForme told BIA representatives and Councillors, “It’s a brave thing to do to tell the history of the Indigenous peoples of this land. It sets a good example, not only to Ontario, but to the rest of Canada.”
The Emery Village’s BIA’s capital project is estimated to be approximately $4 million.
York West Councillor Mammoliti indicated some of the proposed budget would come from city Section 37, or community development funds, generated from the area’s development revitalization.
The Park is currently in the design stage, the BIA envisions two arrival circles at both ends of the park connected by the bike path. Three distinctive pathways would boast distinctive features to represent each of the three First Nations.
The Emery Village Voice will be making monthly updates with developments as this exciting project starts to take shape.
You can also visit the new and improved Emery Village website for further information at www.emeryvillagevoice.ca