Update from Innisfil ideaLAB & Library, 2024
Simcoe County is located on the traditional territory of the Anishinaabeg. The Anishinaabeg include the Ojibwe, Odawa, and Pottawatomi nations, collectively known as the Three Fires Confederacy. There are two First Nations reserves located within the geographic boundaries of the County: The Chippewas of Rama First Nation and Beausoleil First Nation.
The County is also home to the Métis people, many of whom descend from the historic Georgian Bay Métis community based in the Town of Penetanguishene and Townships of Tiny and Tay. Simcoe County is covered by Region 7 of the Métis Nation of Ontario. In addition to these communities, the County is home to many other First Nations, Inuit, and Métis citizens.
In Canada, treaties govern the rights, responsibilities, and relationships between provincial and federal governments and First Nations communities. The area now called Simcoe County is subject to a number of treaties, including the pre-confederate Southern Ontario Treaties of 1764-1862, including the Penetanguishene Treaty No.5 and Lake Simcoe Treaty No.16, and the post-confederate Williams Treaties of 1923.
In 2017 the Library initiated the process of updating this informational website. At this time, the text of this website had not been updated to cover recent history, made use of outdated terminology, and public access had been disabled for a number of years. The decision to update the website in 2017 was made as a response to widespread criticism of Canada 150 celebrations that focused exclusively on Canada’s colonial history while failing to include thousands of years of Indigenous history. With few resources readily available online that addressed Indigenous history in the Simcoe County region, the Library saw a need to provide a resource that would be easily accessible to Innisfil’s residents while also honouring the Canada 150+ initiative. The text of the original website was updated with the latest archaeological discoveries as well as more recent developments such as the Idle No More movement, the completion of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Final Report in 2015, and the national inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls in 2016.
Although it had been revived as a way to acknowledge and celebrate Indigenous history at a time when Canada’s colonial history was being amplified, the text and imagery used in the site was produced entirely from a settler perspective. There was no input from any of the local First Nations communities, which only perpetuates colonial harms by preventing Indigenous voices from telling their own history. Historically, Indigenous perspectives and voices have been marginalized, silenced, or misrepresented in colonial narratives. Decolonization seeks to rectify this by giving Indigenous communities the agency to tell their own stories.
The Innisfil ideaLAB & Library acknowledges the role it has played in perpetuating harm on our Indigenous communities through this colonial narrative. As a cultural institution that has developed from and within colonial systems of oppression, the Library acknowledges that we are complicit to these historic and present day harms if we are not actively working towards truth and reconciliation.
We are actively seeking to decolonize and Indigenize this website, and thank you for your patience in this process. If you would like to share feedback please connect with us here.
Original Preface Below
This website was developed to provide a written and visual account of the indigenous history of a very specific geographic area and to put it into context with the ebb and flow of the history of Ontario and North America in general. For researchers, we hope that the following will provide a valuable starting point. However, we acknowledge
There are many good sources of information on the Wendat. Please see the selected bibliography for some of the more accessible sources. The local Anishinaabe, however, are very sparsely covered. We have attempted to pull together data from various sources and the information in this section more closely approaches the definition of original research. As for the section on the Wendat, we have stood on the shoulders of the giants who have published on the topic. We do hope our presentation provides a valuable synthesis of available sources.
It should be noted that, although Simcoe County is the focus of this study, it has been necessary to step outside these Euro-Canadian boundaries on a number of occasions. The Anishinaabe people of Muskoka, for example, were connected politically to the larger group around Lake Simcoe. For this reason, they have been included in our presentation. The use of Simcoe County in the title is not entirely accurate or useful at times but it does provide a geographic centre stage for this narrative.