Being in the development stage of our social enterprise, the Westminster Ponds Centre, it’s important to do our part as responsible community members, including paying respects to our Indigenous community members. The Westminster Ponds Centre is in the midst of writing a land acknowledgement in showing respect for the past and present theft, genocide and assimilation of the Canadian Indigenous peoples. In building a new community hub for London, Ontario, it is imperative we do everything in our power to make our space, the Westminster Ponds Centre, that of an inclusive city.

“In building a new community hub for London, Ontario, it is imperative we do everything in our power to make our space that of an inclusive city.”

Besides the basic necessity of creating a land acknowledgement, the Westminster Ponds Centre is committed to including Indigenous voices, perspectives and representation in the creation of what the Centre will be for the community. The Westminster Ponds Centre is an important opportunity to further progress London on its path to an Indigenized city. Indigenizing cities refers to the process of “reclaiming and reimagining cities as places of Indigenous identity, community and resilience by honoring Indigenous treaties, land claims and inherent rights; actively decolonizing contemporary urban planning and city building approaches; centering Indigenous models of place keeping, land stewardship, and cultural revitalization.” (City Building Glossary, Evergreen). Although this post does not yet include Indigenous voices, we thought it better to begin the conversation, and show our understanding of the responsibility we have as a community hub, to be active members in this conversation. In light of the tragic, and disturbing, uncoverings of missing Indigenous children and peoples at Canadian residential school grounds; we want our community to aid us in discussing how the Westminster Ponds Centre will function to re-Indigenize London.

“Indigenizing cities refers to the process of “reclaiming and reimagining cities as places of Indigenous identity, community and resilience by honoring Indigenous treaties, land claims and inherent rights; actively decolonizing contemporary urban planning and city building approaches; centering Indigenous models of place keeping, land stewardship, and cultural revitalization.” (City Building Glossary, Evergreen).”

The Westminster Ponds Centre acknowledges it is located on the traditional, unceded territory of the Anishinaabe people. The Anishinaabe group; including, the Mississauga, Ojibwe, Chippewa, Odawa, Potawatomi, Algonquin, Saulteaux, and Nipissing. Each group is linked to their home website. We encourage readers to click each name and learn about the Indigenous history of the London area.

London, Ontario resides under the McKee Purchase, Treaty 2, signed on May 19th of 1790. There were over 50 signatories signed under this treaty, including Indigenous leaders and settlers. However, settler colonialism and the Canadian government displaced many Indigenous communities prior to Treaties being signed.

It is important to protect and honor the history and the Indigenous peoples of the place on which the Westminster Ponds Centre resides.

A land acknowledgement is only the first and smallest step towards Indigenous reconciliation. Land acknowledgments will never be perfect and or be able to compensate for the pain brought on to Indigenous peoples by colonizers. After centuries of genocide, ethnic cleansing done by residential schools, stolen land and forced removal; the Indigenous peoples deserve not to be treated as a remains of the past.

“A land acknowledgement is only the first and smallest step towards Indigenous reconciliation.”

Please consider this post the beginning of an imperative conversation in creating the Westminster Ponds Centre into an active catalyst to Indigenous reconciliation. We are now beginning community consultations, after which we hope can result in updated information for our community on what specific actions the Westminster Ponds Centre is doing to Indigenize the city and space. Actions speak louder than words so, keep an eye out for how we maintain our promise to be allies, team members and advocates for and with the Indigenous communities of London, Ontario.