City of Kingston ‘committed’ to long-term relationships with Indigenous community

‘We want to be a city that is inclusive,’ Heritage Services Director says

Image by: Curtis Heinzl
Sunrise ceremony in Toronto kicks off Indigenous Peoples Day.

The City of Kingston is looking to provide community support and funding for Indigenous events and initiatives on and beyond National Indigenous Peoples Day on June 21.

Organizations like Tipi Moza, Kingston Indigenous Languages Nest (KILN), the Queen’s Office of Indigenous Initiatives, and Metis Nation of Ontario worked with the City to provide community programming in City Park on June 21. 

Activities on the day included singing, drumming, language activities, corn husk doll crafting and a scavenger hunt at a KFPL pop-up library at City Park, in association with Tipi Moza and KILN. 

READ MORE: Commerce club hosts case competition for local Indigenous business

The City’s long-term goals for Indigeneity extend past their support for programming on Indigenous People’s Day, Jennifer Campbell, director of heritage services for the City, said in an interview with The Journal.

Over the past six years, the City worked with Indigenous community members, allies, and settlers in their Engage for Change project. Indigenous community members participating in the project recommend ways the City can support Indigenous initiatives. 

According to the City’s website, the project’s goal is for the City and the Indigenous community to “move forward together in a good way.”

Campbell said conversations with the Indigenous community are founded on “respect and understanding,” where various groups have a seat at the table. As a result of the project, the City has directed $100,000 towards community initiatives. 

“The [Engage for Change] project has had a number of outcomes and initiatives, spanning from helping to find gathering spaces, to finding ways to better support Indigenous community members to have ceremonies and have access to space within the city,” Campbell said.

The project began as a series of talking circles to bring people closer to Indigenous history and help them understand the realities and impacts of colonialism.

Campbell said the City aims to continue its commitments to Indigeneity by allocating a specific stream of funding to Indigenous community organizers through their Heritage Fund. The fund will support the development of installations, exhibits, projects, and programs about Kingston’s Indigenous history.

“Relationships with Indigenous residents are essential, and they’re at the core of who we are as a community, and its hard work,” Campbell said. 

“We’ve been working on [Indigenous community relationships] for as long as we’ve been here—sometimes in a good way, sometimes, probably not in such a good way—but that is where we want to be.”

The City is currently working on hiring an Indigenous Curator who will develop historical and cultural exhibitions for residents and visitors.

The City uses the Kingston Aboriginal Community Information Network (KACIN) as a communication channel to share news, updates, and programming, both year-round and for Indigenous Peoples Day. 

Campbell suggests students get involved by taking a language course with KILN, taking opportunities to learn about Indigenous food practices, or working with others to bring the community together.

“Indigenous relationships are relationships—it’s hard in any short conversation or short news article to capture the depth and the breadth of the work,” Campbell said.

With files from Curtis Heinzl


City of Kingston, EDII, Heritage, Indigenous

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