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Ontario Heritage Trust provincial plaque commemorates the history of Moose Factory

MOOSE FACTORY, ON, Aug. 5, 2023 /CNW/ - Today, the Ontario Heritage Trust, in partnership with the Moose River Heritage and Hospitality Association and the Moose Cree First Nation, unveiled a new provincial plaque commemorating the long history of what is today known as Moose Factory. The plaque recognizes the Moose Cree and their relations with European settlers beginning in the 17th century. The unveiling ceremony was part of a weeklong celebration of Cree culture and history that ran from August 1 to 5.

This new plaque will replace an existing provincial plaque that was originally unveiled in 1964. It presented a colonial perspective on the historical significance of Moose Factory that emphasized the fur trade and the history of European settlement. To rectify this exclusionary interpretation, the Trust worked with historian Cecil Chabot and an advisory group of Moose Cree Elders and Knowledge-keepers to centre Moose Cree worldviews and their history with Europeans.

"This year's More than 350 celebrations in Moose Factory are about exploring a broader and deeper history of the community. These new provincial plaques accomplish that goal by extending beyond the fur trade and instead emphasizing a Moose Cree perspective of their homeland," said Cecil Chabot, Executive Director of the Moose River Heritage and Hospitality Association. "We are thankful to the Ontario Heritage Trust, and to all those who advised on the new plaque texts, for their knowledge and their support."

Updating this provincial plaque is part of the Trust's continuing commitment to working in partnership with Indigenous Nations to address past harms and expand the historical narrative so Ontarians have a more authentic and honest account of our history.

"The Ontario Heritage Trust is pleased to recognize the long and rich history of the Moose Cree First Nation and Moose Factory with these new provincial plaques," said John Ecker, Chair, Board of Directors, Ontario Heritage Trust. "We believe the new plaques will foster a better understanding of this community and its story by focusing on the perspectives and beliefs of its first people."

The new plaque reads as follows:

Moose Factory ? Môsonîwi-Mini?tik

Môsonîwililiw oral tradition describes an ancestral couple, lowered here from a sky world, who were shown how to survive and thrive by animals who also gifted their lives for this purpose. The Creator's laws, including honesty, courage and ?awelihcikewin ? sharing with gratitude and generosity ? were reinforced over generations by lived experience of the benefits or consequences of upholding or ignoring these principles. After receiving hospitality at this Môsonîwililiw summer gathering site, Hudson's Bay Company traders built Moose Fort in 1673, and relations quickly extended beyond commerce to mutual support in hard times. Over the next two centuries, Moose Fort became Moose Factory: a regional transatlantic trade hub marked by cultural exchange and intermarriage. This history influenced Môsonîwililiw expectations for Treaty 9, signed in 1905. Despite treaty violations, many volunteered for Canadian military service in the World Wars. By the mid-20th century, Moose Factory's linkages were shifting towards Canada as it transitioned away from being a fur trade company town. The Moose Cree First Nation's primary reserve was surveyed here in 1948. Veterans helped lead postwar self-governance and treaty renewal efforts, exemplified by the 1973 creation of Nishnawbe-Aski Nation. While Môsonîwi-Mini?tik is Ontario's oldest English-speaking settlement, its primary history remains with the Môsonîwililiwak.

The plaque text is available in Moose Cree (Moose Cree syllabics and Moose Cree Roman orthography), English and French.

About the Provincial Plaque Program

Established in 1955, the Provincial Plaque Program is the Trust's oldest program with 1,289 provincial plaques unveiled across the province to date. In 2014, the Trust began reviewing its plaque portfolio and found that there were many older plaques that presented an outdated version of events, excluded the perspectives of marginalized communities ? including women, Black, Indigenous and Asian communities ? or used language now considered inappropriate or racist. Work formally began in 2018 to address plaques identified as dated, exclusionary or used language that is no longer appropriate.

Last year, the Trust updated four provincial plaques related to Black heritage and history and one related to the Canadian residential school system. As the Trust's understanding of history continues to broaden, the Provincial Plaque Program will evolve to better reflect the complexity of Ontario's rich heritage.

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About the Ontario Heritage Trust

The Ontario Heritage Trust (the Trust) is an agency of the Government of Ontario. The Trust conserves, interprets and shares Ontario's heritage. We conserve provincially significant cultural and natural, tangible and intangible heritage, interpret Ontario's history, celebrate its diversity and educate Ontarians of its importance in our society. The Trust envisions an Ontario where we conserve, value and share the places and landscapes, histories, traditions and stories that embody our heritage, now and for future generations.

SOURCE Ontario Heritage Trust

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