Ontario's "Gathering Rooms" A First For The Province
An Ongoing Commitment To Strengthening Relationships With Aboriginal Peoples
New ceremonies meeting rooms are part of Ontario's efforts towards reconciliation and a stronger relationship with Aboriginal partners.
Called "The Gathering Rooms," they are the first of their kind in Ontario and offer a space to conduct meetings using traditional Aboriginal ceremonies. A dedicated ventilation system will safely allow smudging practices, including the burning of traditional medicines such as sweetgrass, sage, cedar and tobacco.
The new space is part of Ontario's ongoing efforts to strengthen relationships with Aboriginal partners, a key part of the government's Treaty Strategy. The Strategy is aimed at improving socio-economic outcomes for Aboriginal peoples through stronger partnerships and engagement with Aboriginal communities and a greater awareness of the importance of treaties.
The Gathering Rooms also provide Ontario Public Service staff with an opportunity to learn about First Nations, Inuit and Métis cultures and traditions. Many of the recommendations from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission refer to the importance of education, and building a stronger awareness of our shared history.
Building positive relationships with Aboriginal peoples is part of the government's plan for Ontario. The four-part plan is building Ontario up by investing in people's talents and skills, making the largest investment in public infrastructure in Ontario's history, creating a dynamic, supportive environment where business thrives, and building a secure retirement savings plan.
- Smudging is a traditional ceremony practised by some Aboriginal cultures to purify the mind, body and spirit.
- Sweetgrass and sage are the medicines that will be used most in The Gathering Rooms. Tobacco and cedar may be used for other traditional ceremonies including pipe ceremonies.
- The rooms have a separate ventilation system that meets or exceeds building code requirements.
- The Gathering Rooms are located in the offices of the Ministry of Aboriginal Affairs at 160 Bloor Street East in downtown Toronto.
“With the opening of the Gathering Rooms, we are acknowledging and embracing the Aboriginal experience and supporting our work to enhance Aboriginal voices within government. It is but one of many steps on our journey of healing and reconciliation and reflects our government’s commitment to work with Ontario’s Aboriginal communities as partners, creating a better future for everyone in our province.”
“This new space will help us set the tone for meetings that are more respectful and more productive. Stronger relationships with Aboriginal partners will lead to better outcomes for Aboriginal peoples and more opportunities for all Ontarians.”
“It is really wonderful to have a space like this. Ceremonies such as smudging are practised by some Aboriginal cultures to purify thoughts and spaces. Before meetings, it can help create a positive mindset and that is an important part of communication.”