Urban Indigenous Strategy

2 images - indigenous person giving a presentation and 3 people playing an indigenous drumThe City of Hamilton recognizes and acknowledges that we are located on the traditional territories of the Mississauga and Haudenosaunee nations, and within the lands protected by the “Dish With One Spoon” wampum agreement.

The City is developing an Urban Indigenous Strategy that will identify actions to strengthen the City’s relationship with the Indigenous community. The strategy will help promote a better understanding among all residents about Indigenous histories, cultures, experiences and contributions.   

Why is this important?

  • To carry out the Calls to Action from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada at the local level.
  • Our Future Hamilton community vision includes key directions regarding Indigenous cultures and knowledge.
  • City Council approved the Aboriginal Justice Strategy in 2015 acknowledging Indigenous peoples as the original peoples of this area.
  • We recognize many of the national issues that impact Indigenous peoples locally such as missing and murdered Indigenous women and the legacy of Indian residential schools.

How will the strategy be developed?

Throughout the development of the strategy there will be opportunities to participate or provide feedback:

December 2016 to December 2017

  • Review reports and research.
  • Promote and participate in community events.
  • Raise awareness of this new work within the Indigenous community and with all Hamilton residents.
  • Establish governance and guiding principles.
  • Community members will be brought together to provide advice (a partnership circle), and drive the work (a coordinating circle).

January to August 2018

  • Engage the Indigenous community and the broader public in Hamilton on the strategy using the themes of Land, People and Spirit
  • Continue community conversation around reconciliation.
  • Work with partners and youth to develop a project identifier
  • Provide a survey to collect community input on what actions the City can take in the Strategy.    

September to December 2018

  • Analyse the survey findings and feedback from Phase Two.
  • Report back to the community.
  • Share a draft strategy with Indigenous community partners.
  • Present a final strategy to City Council for approval.

2018 Urban Indigenous Strategy Survey Results

The Urban Indigenous Strategy survey was conducted from May to June 2018 to collect community input on what actions the City can take in the development of the Urban Indigenous Strategy. On December 3, 2018, City staff and community partners presented the findings and key directions from the survey to the community. Community feedback during the presentation will be incorporated in the final report of the Hamilton Urban Indigenous Strategy. The report will be presented to Hamilton City Council in early 2019. Review the Urban Indigenous Strategy Survey results (PDF, 642 KB)

How you can be involved

Throughout the development of the strategy there will be opportunities to participate or provide feedback:

  • Join our mailing list
  • Attend community events, workshops, surveys or public education campaigns
  • Educate yourself and raise awareness among your family and friends about Indigenous histories and experiences
  • Invite us to speak to your organization or committee about the development of the strategy.

Events & initiatives in the community

Indigenous events & initiatives in the community will appear here when announced.

Overview of Community Conversation on Reconciliation (December 13, 2017)
The Coordinating Circle brought together Indigenous community members in a conversation at the Hamilton Regional Indian Centre. Forty-one participants came and shared their perspectives on what reconciliation in Hamilton means to them. The Coordinating Circle plans to continue this dialogue with more people in the community during Phase Two.

Community Conversation on Reconciliation featuring the KAIROS Blanket Exercise (March 19, 2018)
The Coordinating Circle hosted a second community conversation on reconciliation, featuring the KAIROS Blanket Exercise.  The event brought together one hundred Indigenous and non-Indigenous residents to participate in the exercise at the Hamilton Public Library Central Branch.  The KAIROS Blanket Exercise is an experiential learning tool that aims to raise awareness and understanding of the history of Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples on Turtle Island

Youth Shaping Spirit in Hamilton (April 11, 2018)
The Youth Shaping Spirit in Hamilton workshop asked local Indigenous youth to reflect on their Indigenous identity and discuss ways that the City can reflect their culture and community. The youth created an art piece to represent the urban Indigenous youth living in Hamilton and how they wanted the City to honour their traditional roots. In partnership with Legal Aid Ontario (LAO), the youth presented their art piece on May 3, 2018 as part of LAO’s “Boldness Project”. The artwork has also been on display at alternative community events throughout the city.

Indigenous Flag Raising (May 28, 2018)
The Urban Indigenous Strategy, Hamilton's Aboriginal Advisory Committee and De Dwa Da Dehs Nye>s Aboriginal Health Centre partnered and held a Full Moon Ceremony at City Hall to honour Indigenous flags that were flown for the month of June. Thirty participants were in attendance including Mayor Eisenberger, Chief Stacey LaForme, Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation, Six Nations Councillor Wray Maracle and Secretary and Veteran Don Kennedy, Métis Nation of Ontario Clear Waters Council.

Bringing the City to the Community Information Fair (June 2, 2018)
The Information Fair was an opportunity for City staff to meet Indigenous residents and discuss the numerous programs and services that the City provides. The event was a great pilot, bringing together 80+ Indigenous community members and 18 City of Hamilton booths attended the event. The event included information booths representing a number of different City services, a Cultural Cardio class, Young Ogichidaa Singers, draws and much more.

National Indigenous Peoples Day Celebration (June 21, 2018)
On June 21st, National Indigenous Peoples Day, a celebration at City Hall was held featuring welcoming remarks from community member Yvonne Maracle and Mayor Eisenberger, songs from the Spirit Vision Singers and cake.  In the evening, the Hamilton sign outside City Hall was lit up in the colours red, white, black and yellow representing the Medicine Wheel.

Stories from the Land (June 22, 2018)
The Urban Indigenous Strategy partnered with the Soaring Spirits Festival and hosted their final event, "Stories From The Land."  Three speakers: Rick Hill, Elaine Lee and Val King were invited to share stories and perspectives on traditional knowledge with attendees.

Community Presentation (December 3, 2018)
On December 3, 2018, the Coordinating Circle held a community presentation to share the key findings and key directions from the Urban Indigenous Strategy survey that was done in May. Great conversation and feedback were shared by participants. The event reaffirmed that there is still a lot of work and a lot of opportunity for building a stronger relationship with the Indigenous community.

The Use of Indigenous Medicines Policy

The City of Hamilton has developed a Use of Indigenous Medicines Policy, which confirms the City’s commitment to supporting Indigenous peoples to use sacred medicines in ceremonies such as smudging or prayer pipe ceremonies in municipal facilities. The policy outlines the steps that City of Hamilton staff are expected to follow to accommodate the use of Indigenous medicines. 
In the course of developing Hamilton’s Urban Indigenous Strategy, smudging ceremonies have been incorporated to begin the meetings of the Coordinating Circle in the Lister Block. Since the Fall of 2017, weekly cultural competency training run for the Hamilton Police Services has also incorporated smudging ceremonies. The new policy not only supports these important initiatives but will be used by other divisions and programs within the City that are working to build relationships with Indigenous peoples and create a welcoming environment in municipal locations.

For more information on the policy, please contact diversity@hamilton.ca

Contact us

Phone: 905-546-2424 ext. 7552