Forty members of the Trent and Peterborough communities gathered together in the Mackenzie House parking lot to participate in an Indigenous blessing ceremony to honour the cedar trees that will be removed, and those that have been removed, for the widening and upgrading of Pioneer Rd and the development of the Trent Research & Innovation Park (TRIP).
Elder Doug Williams led the gathering in a smudge and prayer for the land and trees. The ceremony included a lesson on the significance of cedar in creation, followed by a drum song, and an opportunity to share personal stories of the land and the importance of these ceremonies.
“While today was not a consultation, it was an important step in recognizing the importance of ongoing communication with First Nations people in construction and development,” said Elder Williams, assistant professor, Indigenous Studies. “The large turnout this morning highlights the value the land has on our students, staff, faculty, and community members.”
“It is a good thing to pause. In the hectic pace of the day-to-day, we often become preoccupied with what we aspire to accomplish,” added Malcolm Hunt, municipal advisor to the City of Peterborough involved with TRIP. “While accomplishment is also a good thing, this morning has reminded us that this place – the land, the rolling hills that give the place definition and form, the living things that move about it – came long before the accomplishment.”.
Under the leadership of the First Peoples House of Learning, the University is developing an Indigenous consultation protocol to help guide and inform the developments on Trent’s Endowment Lands and the Trent Research & Innovation Park. The process will include consultations with eight to ten Indigenous communities, followed by a roundtable session with chiefs and senior administration at Trent.