Comment of Sharon Hart to PEC Council, November 26, 2019

Sharon Hart: Hi. My name is Sharon Hart. I was not prepared to stand up here … Paul, my partner Paul usually does that piece of the work. I’m more of a chain – I would chain myself to a statue or something – not that I’m going to. I did want to get up and talk about the sanitization issue. And, I don’t think that’s what we’re asking for. We’re asking for a deferment, so we can have a conversation. And, one of the other things, that Dr. Niigan said was, “When we monumentize people, we have to ask ourselves, ‘Whose story is being told? Whose story is not being told? And why is that?’” I’m really sorry that there was a Council meeting that night, too. I don’t know if you’ve all had the opportunity to listen to the recording. Has anybody heard Dr. Niigan’s recording?

Mayor Ferguson: It was a Planning (chuckles) …

Councillor McNaughton: It’s not …

Sharon Hart: Huh?

Mayor Ferguson: It was a Planning Meeting that night. Anyway, go on. [NOTE: It was not a Planning Meeting, but a Council Meeting].

Sharon Hart: I know, but has anybody heard his speech?

Mayor Ferguson: I don’t know that we’re interested in hearing a [inaudible].

Councillor McNaughton: It’s not available in full.

Mayor Ferguson: Yeah.

Sharon Hart: It can be.

Councillor McNaughton: Huh?

Sharon Hart: So, in my mind, I don’t know how we can do these land acknowledgements, and then put up monuments to people like Macdonald. We already … we have the statue, and I guess, the discussion is, What to do with it? And, I think it’s a heck of a lot easier to have the discussion before it’s re-instated. Um, the thing around his story, Macdonald’s story, that upsets me the most is the whole residential school piece of it. And what we did to the children. And how that has perpetuated inter-generational trauma. And I’ve worked my whole life with children and young people who have been traumatized. And I’ll tell you it changes, it changes your brain. An un-traumatized brain is there for connecting with others. Someone’s who’s been traumatized is now on alert and is worried. And I volunteer at the library every week. And I can’t imagine walking past this statue, as I go into work with the youth group there. So, we’re asking for a deferment tonight. Thank you.

Mayor Ferguson: Thank you. Any questions? No? OK, thank you … Oh, I’m sorry, Councillor Roberts, question?.

Councillor Roberts: Yeah, I had a question.

Sharon Hart: Yes, sir.

Councillor Roberts: I’m wondering, if part of the discussion that we have, and the conversations that we have with the Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte, could also – I’m looking for your opinion – could also include something like what the city of Windsor did a couple of years ago – it was two Septembers ago – they erected a very beautiful and respectful of the Shawnee warrior, Tecumseh. It’s to look at the other side of the discussion, which is, How do we create things that are memorials and remembrances of great Indigenous leadership, as well? Is that part of what you see as going forward?

Sharon Hart: Well, wouldn’t that be amazing, you know! Because then we’re answering that question, “Whose story are we telling?” My understanding – like this plaque – I can’t even imagine … on one of the community boards today, people were talking and chatting about this, and I said, ”You know, I was in my forties before I heard this story about residential schools. And it was up in the Northwest Territories. And we sat with elders. And there was an educator [Ms. X, tonight] , who said, “We’re now talking to kids about this.” – which in some ways is even … like, I can’t imagine taking my child over to the library and this statue’s going to be kind of new for kids, right? “Oh, mom, what’s that, who’s that?” “Well, that’s, you know, that’s our first Prime Minister, honey …”

Mayor Ferguson: Any other questions?

Sharon Hart: … and then, is the conversation going to continue, “… and, this is what he did to …?” So, I don’t know about these conversations that we think we’re all going to have.

Ferguson: Councillor McNaughton?

Councillor McNaughton: So, one of the big question marks with this whole process that sort of the library is taking the lead on is the whole public space aspect. And how do we address public spaces, so that we’re presenting, so that we’re not closing the doors on some people, where we’re managing to create an open door for everyone. And that is what Councillor Roberts was referring to and what you’re talking about now is part of how the library or the Library Board currently is looking at moving forward with this. The one missing piece of the puzzle is First Nations’ consultation and I just wanted for … there has been some, because we’ve been working with several members of the community, but one of the interesting pieces of the puzzle that fell into place for me was, at one point, when we were discussing, requesting guidance, we were told, “Hey, this is up to you! We don’t have to reconcile anything! This is for you to reconcile!” And, I think that is something I’ve carried away with me, and I’ve taken to heart, that this is our responsibility, and I do … I agree with what you said, that we do need to take our land acknowledgement statements very seriously. So, I want to thank you for speaking tonight.

Mayor Ferguson: OK, thank you very much.

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