Orillia council recommends controversial Champlain monument be reinstalled
Orillia city council has passed a resolution recommending the controversial Samuel de Champlain monument be reinstalled in Couchiching Park, accompanied by a plaque or narrative that also tells the true history of indigenous people in the area.
The Champlain monument was taken down in the fall of 2017 so Parks Canada could improve some structural issues. It was supposed to be returned to Couchiching Beach Park the following summer, but Parks Canada asked the city to come up with a plan for the statue and the land surrounding it after concerns were raised about the monuments representation of Indigenous people.
The city of Orillia held a series of public consultations, and on Monday night Orillia Mayor Steve Clarke and City Councillor Tim Lauer presented a report to council with recommendations.
"What we need is an additional educational piece that tells the accurate history of the indigenous people in this area," said Mayor Clarke on Monday night.
"Some of that is a wonderful history to celebrate, and some of that is not wonderful when you speak about residential schools and the 60s scoop, and not having a right to vote until a few decades ago, and I think that history needs to be reflected," Clarke added.
The resolution passed recommends the monument be reinstalled in its original form, but accompanied with the new narrative.
Mayor Clarke, Councillor Laurer and Councillor Jay Fallis plan to work with the Chippewas of Rama First Nation and Huron-Wendat Nation to explore strategies that will help move reconciliation forward in a meaningful way.
The resolution passed on Monday night is now being forwarded to a working group that will make a recommendation to Parks Canada.
Parks Canada will have the final say on whether or not the monument is reinstalled.