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Mayor Frank Scarpitti and Chief Elizabeth Atlookan encourage other municipalities to partner with Ontario First Nations communities
MARKHAM, ON – January 31, 2017 – Markham and Eabametoong First Nation (EFN) want to plant hope, skills, and economic opportunity in the fertile cultural ground of Eabametoong, a community of 1,500 people on-reserve.
On January 31, 2017 the City of Markham signed a historic accord – an agreement of Cultural Collaboration with Eabametoong First Nation, also known as Fort Hope. Eabametoong is an Ojibway First Nation located 360 kilometres north of Thunder Bay, Ontario and about 1,000 kilometres north of Markham. Eabametoong is accessible by air and winter road.
Through the Cultural Collaboration Agreement the communities have agreed to:
The partnership agreement is a first of its kind between a Canadian urban municipality and a remote northern First Nation community. After fruitful discussions with Chief Elizabeth Atlookan, Councillor Louie Sugarhead, and past Grand Chief Harvey Yesno, Mayor Frank Scarpitti and Markham City Council passed a motion on May 10, 2016 given approval to proceed with the agreement. On January 18, 2017, in Eabametoong First Nation, Chief Elizabeth Atlookan formally signed the agreement on behalf of her community, and City of Markham Mayor Frank Scarpitti completed the signing at the Markham Civic Centre on January 31, 2017.
This agreement stands as a tangible expression of reconciliation and an innovative way for municipalities and First Nations to work together to alleviate the inequities of indigenous life that too often lead to despair, drugs and suicide among members of the community.
Eabametoong First Nation is mainly a cash economy with limited employment opportunities. That is about to change as Markham and EFN forge a relationship that will bring some big ideas to fruition through a number of expressions of support. Together they will work to improve the lives of people of this First Nation whose goal is to develop a healthy, strong community through building its economic capacity.
As a dynamic, agile and prosperous multicultural city, Markham will collaborate with EFN and offer its innovative human, business and technology resources to respond to the community’s needs.
Eabametoong First Nation will soon have access to Markham’s online library system. Once the winter road to EFN opens up, sports and fitness equipment will be delivered for the community’s new fitness program. Markham is also offering EFN municipal management resources as well as business assistance and mentoring opportunities.
Canadians are celebrating our country’s 150th birthday this year. This is a practical way to transform the sesquicentennial vision of nation-building possibilities into reality.
More tourism and cultural visits to both Markham and Eabametoong First Nation will make important inroads on the journey to reconciliation. Grassroots meetings of hearts and minds among residents, business people and government leaders from both communities are a good starting point.
A new page on reconciliation is now being written. It contributes to the next chapter and positive story that’s unfolding in Eabametoong First Nation.
Mayor Frank Scarpitti hopes that the legacy projects and ties being forged with Eabametoong First Nation will be meaningful and endure long after Canada’s sesquicentennial celebrations are over.
This new urban-First-Nation Cultural Collaboration serves as a model for other municipalities. Now that the City of Markham has pledged to bring hope back to Eabametoong First Nation, Mayor Frank Scarpitti hopes other municipalities will develop similar relationships with other Ontario First Nation communities.
For more information:
Markham, a municipality with 350,000 residents centrally located in the Greater Toronto area, is home to over 400 corporate head offices and more than 1,100 high tech and life science companies. Founded in the 1790s, today Markham is Canada’s most diverse community, enjoys a rich heritage, outstanding community planning and services, and a vibrant local economy. Markham has received the Excellence Canada Gold Award for Organizational Quality & Healthy Workplace, and multiple heritage and environmental awards.
About Eabametoong First Nation
Eabametoong First Nation, also known as Fort Hope is a proud member of the Nishnawbe Aski Nation and the Matawa Tribal Council and a signatory to Treaty 9. Located 360 kilometres north of Thunder Bay on the northern shore of Eabamet Lake along the Albany River, Eabametoong is accessible by air and winter road. The total population, according to the 2014 census, totals over 2,500 people, of which approximately 1,500 live on-reserve.
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