By Michael-Allan Marion, Brantford Expositor
The Mississaugas of the New Credit are an official Host First Nation of the 2015 Pan Am/ParaPan Games in Toronto.
A letter of understanding between the Pan American/ParaPan American Games organizing committee and New Credit was signed in a ceremony attended by about 50 people in the New Credit community centre on Monday morning.
It was the second ceremony, following one in Toronto 10 days ago.
“All members of the Mississaugas of the New Credit First Nation are pleased to welcome the Toronto 2015 Pan Am/ParaPan games, including the athletes, dignitaries and other international games guests to our traditional territory,” Chief Bryan Laforme said in an interview Monday.
“To us, the games represent a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to showcase the roots, language, traditions and culture of the Ojibway and to promote respect for and recognition of indigenous peoples across Canada and the Americas.”
Laforme noted that Toronto is part of the Mississaugas' original territory.
“It means a great deal to our community to get that recognition,” he said.
“It sends a strong message that Ontario is recognizing the first peoples of its land.”
As Host First Nation, New Credit will work with TO2015 on ceremonies, community sport activations, arts and culture, youth programming, employment, internship opportunities, economic development, branding and volunteerism.
Laforme pointed out that the traditional territory of the New Credit First Nation included much of the Greater Toronto Area where the majority of venues for the games, including the Athletes Village will be located.
Saad Rafi, CEO of the TO2015 games organizing committee, said the formalizing of the relationship demonstrates the importance that the games and its partners place on ensuring aboriginal peoples have meaningful involvement in the games.
The games also will serve as “a catalyst for the further future positive development between aboriginal people and Canadian society,” Rafi added.
The Six Nations of the Grand River, Huron-Wendat First Nation and Metis Nation of Ontario also have signed memorandums of understanding with TO2015. All First Nations in the agreement have important traditional ties to the games region.