The Awen’ Gathering Place in Collingwood is a space along the waterfront to recognize the First Nations presence in South Georgian Bay. It is intended to create opportunities for engagement of Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples while fostering reconciliation through education and conversation.
When the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada released its report in 2015 with 94 calls to action nine of those calls to action directly related to Municipal government.
That year the Collingwood Arts Symposium featured topics regarding inclusion and diversity and the role creativity plays in recognizing marginalization and its effects for the first time. Later that year marked the beginnings of the Collingwood Waterfront Master Plan. The draft plans that emerged contained a “gathering place” feature. Construction was completed in 2018 and an official opening ceremony was held on September 7th that year at Harbourview Park.
The Town of Collingwood’s website explains the concept for the Awen’ Gathering Place as follows:
The concept for the Awen’ Gathering Place is based on the teachings of renowned Anishinaabe educator, artist and poet Dr Duke Redbird. It links the seven layers of the food forest to the Seven Grandfather Teachings, an ancient Anishinaabe/Midewiwin teaching on the ethics of proper behaviour and conduct or ‘the good way of life’. These teachings are linked to lands that were for thousands of years, the source of life for the Anishinaabeg peoples who gathered foods, medicines and materials from the forest in the area that is now Collingwood.
Collingwood has shown itself to be a community that is interested in proactively addressing inclusion and diversity.
For those who wish to learn and grow you can read more about the Awen’ Gathering Place, see a presentation for National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, and learn more about First Nations, Metis and Inuit peoples all on this page of the Town of Collingwood’s website.