Ceremony helps to build understanding

Town Council and First Nations

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(L) Saugeen Shores Mayor Mike Smith and Saugeen Ojibway Nation Chief, Randal Kahgee

The Saugeen Ojibway Nation (SON) held a sacred ceremony early Monday morning at the mouth of the Saugeen River where it empties into Lake Huron.

A sacred fire was kept burning for four days after a  recently revealed archeological site on the Saugeen River.  The site was discovered when excavation began for a new sewer expansion project on the north side of the river.

When artifacts/bones, thought to belong to those of First Nations ancestors, were discovered, the excavation came to a complete halt until negotiations between the Town of Saugeen Shores and the First Nations people could be entered into.

As a result of discussions between the Town of Saugeen Shores, Saugeen Ojibway Nation (SON) and the Nawash Unceded First Nation of Cape Croker, an agreement was reached.  Click here for agreement

Among those officiating at the closing of the fire ceremony were SON Chief Randal Kahgee, Nawash Chief Ralph Ackiwenzie and Saugeen Shores Mayor Mike Smith, along with memthese bers of the Saugeen Band Council and the Town Council.

Chief Kahgee said that it was hard not to get emotional in the surroundings with the water in the background and nature all around knowing that their ancestors had stood in the same spot.  "For four days, the fire has been burning," he said.  "It is important to understand for our ancestors, for our community and for our future, the sacrifices that many people made over this past Easter weekend to keep 24 hour watch and be away from their families."

Kahgee also said that, "We haven't always had a good history with our neighbours and the hardships that our people have faced have been difficult but, my hope is that we can build a better future and move on and draw strength from remembering these things."

Mayor Mike Smith, representing the Town of Saugeen Shores, thanked the First Nations people for   "...helping us to understand how important this is to you.  I offer you friendship and, hopefully, a better understanding of the relationship that we are trying to build between our communities."

Deputy Mayor Doug Frieburger ceremoniously washes his hands in sweetgrass water

"I am also hopeful," said Kahgee, "that, based on the discussions we have had, that we can continue to build on that understanding that respects our place and our history and I too hope we will also learn from each other."

Mayor Smith felt that the ceremony was very moving.  "We are going to work with the Saugeen Ojibway Nation and respect those areas that are in keeping with their heritage and history.  We also both want what is best for the environment."


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Thursday, April 08, 2010