Our role as a Museum is to ensure that the history and stories of the Indigenous community are included in our collection and shared with the community. We need to continue educating and holding ourselves accountable for our commitments to Reconciliation.
Released in 2015, the Truth and Reconciliation Report outlined 94 Calls to Action including the need for every Canadian to educate themselves about Indigenous history and legacy of Residential Schools.
To do this we pledge the following:
1. Connect and listen to the Indigenous Community.
2. Re-evaluate the historical narrative of Aurora.
3. Re-examine current museum practices that were originally created in a colonial framework.
4. Affirm our commitment to the 94 Calls to Action beginning with #79 quoted below.
#79: We call upon the federal government, in collaboration with Survivors, Aboriginal organizations, and the arts community, to develop a reconciliation framework for Canadian heritage and commemoration. This would include, but not be limited to:
i. Amending the Historic Sites and Monuments Act to include First Nations, Inuit, and Métis representation on the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada and its Secretariat.
ii. Revising the policies, criteria, and practices of the National Program of Historical Commemoration to integrate Indigenous history, heritage values, and memory practices into Canada’s national heritage and history.
iii. Developing and implementing a national heritage plan and strategy for commemorating residential school sites, the history and legacy of residential schools, and the contributions of Aboriginal peoples to Canada’s history.
We urge all Canadians to take the time to celebrate and learn more about the diverse cultural heritage of First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples. We are honoured to share this message of learning and greeting from Traditional Grandmother Kim Wheatley on this National Indigenous Peoples Day.
Treaties are legally binding documents that outline the relationship between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people. The Royal Proclamation of 1763 established the recognition of Aboriginal rights and title in Canada including self-determination setting the stage for treaty negotiations. It forbade the settlement of British colonists on native lands and is enshrined in the Canadian Constitution (1982). Canada however, has not always upheld it’s end of the bargain forcing First Nations to seek remediation through the Canadian legal system. For most of the 20th century, the Canadian policy of assimilation and colonial practices to solve the “Indian Problem” stood in the way of swift resolution. Land claim negotiations continue to this day in areas that were never covered by a treaty.
The present-day Town of Aurora is situated on Anishinaabe territory and is governed by Treaty #13 and The Williams Treaties.
After the American Revolution there was a growing demand for land, which was granted as a reward for loyalty to the British Crown. The first land grants in Aurora date to 1797 and were issued to William McClellan and Thomas Phillips on the West side of Yonge, and to Charles Fathers, and Frederick Smith on the East side of Yonge. By 1806, most of the land on either side of Yonge Street in Aurora had been claimed.
Treaty #13 (Toronto Purchase)
In 1787, representatives of the Crown met with the Mississaugas of the Credit where land was purportedly ceded to the Crown in an agreement known as the Toronto Purchase. When attempting to survey the land the following year, it became clear that the exact delineation of land boundaries had not been agreed upon. Despite this, in 1793 work began on the extension of Yonge Street from Toronto to Holland Landing. Yonge Street divided present-day Aurora in half, with the western side part of King and the eastern side part of Whitchurch.While dubious at best, the supposed deed covering the sale of the land was not resolved until 1805 when Treaty #13 was signed in exchange for the payment of 10 shillings and fishing rights. This agreement however, only covered the west side of Yonge Street and the front parts of lots on the east side of Yonge.
In 1986, the Mississaugas of the Credit filed a claim against the Canadian Government regarding the 1805 treaty (Treaty #13). They believed that the Crown had taken more land than what was agreed upon, and that the amount offered in payment was not fair compensation. The claim was settled in their favour in 2010.
The Williams Treaties
In Aurora, lands to the east of Yonge Street had never been formally surrendered. While the Johnson-Butler Purchase of 1788 covered lands north of Lake Ontario as far as a gunshot could be heard, this was hardly the case for Aurora. This of course was a problem as settlers had already been living on land that they had no clear, legal title to. This was to change in 1923 when representatives of the Crown and the Chippewas of Christian Island, Georgina Island, and Rama signed what is known as the Williams Treaties for a one-time cash payment and what the Chippewas believed were their rights to fish and hunt on the land.
Legal disputes over the matter however, were not formally resolved until 2018. On November 17, 2018, the Honourable Carolyn Bennett, Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations, apologized on behalf of the Government of Canada for the negative impacts of the 1923 Williams Treaties on the Williams Treaties First Nations.
This is not an exhaustive list of resources, but we hope it can help start you on a path to educate yourself about the history and present reality of the Indigenous peoples of Canada.
Indian Residential School Survivors and Family Crisis Line 1-866-925-4419 The Indian Residential Schools crisis line is available 24-hours a day for anyone experiencing pain or distress because of their Residential School experience. This line is also available to family of former students.
Official webpage of the MCFN. Find resources pertinent to the community and educational resources.
“The Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation is a thriving and vibrant community, bursting with people reaching for their roots as well as the future as they prepare to teach the next 7 generations it’s history and culture. This community has survived many hundred years of change; we fought through near extinction, battled in many wars, suffered a complete loss of culture, undertook a new way of life, faced the trails and tribulations that have come with facing our Canadian government and those now occupying our traditional territory, however despite every inch of transformation the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation have endured, they continued to adapt and grow into the resilient First Nation community that stands today.”
Official webpage of the Williams Treaties First Nations. Find resources pertinent to the community and educational resources.
“The Williams Treaties First Nations are comprised of the Mississaugas of Alderville First Nation, Curve Lake First Nation, Hiawatha First Nation, Scugog Island First Nation and the Chippewas of Beausoleil First Nation, Georgina Island First Nation and the Rama First Nation.
The traditional territories of the Williams Treaties First Nations are located primarily in the Georgian Bay and Lake Ontario watersheds and includes certain principal tributaries and streams.”
“The NCTR is a place of learning and dialogue where the truths of the residential school experience will be honoured and kept safe for future generations… The NCTR was created as part of the mandate of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (TRC).”
We at Indian Residential School Survivor Society (IRSSS) strive to provide physical, emotional, intellectual, spiritual growth, development, and healing through culturally-based values and guiding principles for Survivors, Families, and Communities.
To assist First Nation Peoples in British Columbia to recognize and be holistically empowered from the primary and generational effect of the Residential Schools by supporting research, education, awareness, partnerships, and advocating for justice and healing. The Society assists Survivors with counselling, court support, information, referrals, workshops, and more.”
Part of the Indigenous Collections Symposium (ICS) Webinar Series, Feb-March 2021. Ontario Museum Association in partnership with Six Nations Polytechnic, Ohsweken and Woodland Cultural Centre, Brantford.
“Miziwe Biik Aboriginal Employment and Training was created in 1991 to meet the unique training and employment needs of aboriginal peoples. Miziwe Biik provides the Greater Toronto Area’s Aboriginal community with training initiatives and employment services.
Formerly known as The Greater Toronto Aboriginal Management Board (G.T.A.M.B), the name Miziwe Biik was given to us by Elder Jim Windigo. Our name is associated with the female water spirit and means water which flows all around us.
“Miziwe Biik is like a body of water where a ripple effect had been created; it is the ability to reach out and make positive change in the lives of the Aboriginal peoples across the Greater Toronto Area.””
We firmly believe that the internet should be available and accessible to anyone, and are committed to providing a website that is accessible to the widest possible audience,
regardless of circumstance and ability.
To fulfill this, we aim to adhere as strictly as possible to the World Wide Web Consortium’s (W3C) Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.1 (WCAG 2.1) at the AA level.
These guidelines explain how to make web content accessible to people with a wide array of disabilities. Complying with those guidelines helps us ensure that the website is accessible
to all people: blind people, people with motor impairments, visual impairment, cognitive disabilities, and more.
This website utilizes various technologies that are meant to make it as accessible as possible at all times. We utilize an accessibility interface that allows persons with specific
disabilities to adjust the website’s UI (user interface) and design it to their personal needs.
Additionally, the website utilizes an AI-based application that runs in the background and optimizes its accessibility level constantly. This application remediates the website’s HTML,
adapts Its functionality and behavior for screen-readers used by the blind users, and for keyboard functions used by individuals with motor impairments.
If you’ve found a malfunction or have ideas for improvement, we’ll be happy to hear from you. You can reach out to the website’s operators by using the following email
Screen-reader and keyboard navigation
Our website implements the ARIA attributes (Accessible Rich Internet Applications) technique, alongside various different behavioral changes, to ensure blind users visiting with
screen-readers are able to read, comprehend, and enjoy the website’s functions. As soon as a user with a screen-reader enters your site, they immediately receive
a prompt to enter the Screen-Reader Profile so they can browse and operate your site effectively. Here’s how our website covers some of the most important screen-reader requirements,
alongside console screenshots of code examples:
Screen-reader optimization: we run a background process that learns the website’s components from top to bottom, to ensure ongoing compliance even when updating the website.
In this process, we provide screen-readers with meaningful data using the ARIA set of attributes. For example, we provide accurate form labels;
descriptions for actionable icons (social media icons, search icons, cart icons, etc.); validation guidance for form inputs; element roles such as buttons, menus, modal dialogues (popups),
and others. Additionally, the background process scans all of the website’s images and provides an accurate and meaningful image-object-recognition-based description as an ALT (alternate text) tag
for images that are not described. It will also extract texts that are embedded within the image, using an OCR (optical character recognition) technology.
To turn on screen-reader adjustments at any time, users need only to press the Alt+1 keyboard combination. Screen-reader users also get automatic announcements to turn the Screen-reader mode on
as soon as they enter the website.
These adjustments are compatible with all popular screen readers, including JAWS and NVDA.
Users can also use shortcuts such as “M” (menus), “H” (headings), “F” (forms), “B” (buttons), and “G” (graphics) to jump to specific elements.
Disability profiles supported in our website
Epilepsy Safe Mode: this profile enables people with epilepsy to use the website safely by eliminating the risk of seizures that result from flashing or blinking animations and risky color combinations.
Visually Impaired Mode: this mode adjusts the website for the convenience of users with visual impairments such as Degrading Eyesight, Tunnel Vision, Cataract, Glaucoma, and others.
Cognitive Disability Mode: this mode provides different assistive options to help users with cognitive impairments such as Dyslexia, Autism, CVA, and others, to focus on the essential elements of the website more easily.
ADHD Friendly Mode: this mode helps users with ADHD and Neurodevelopmental disorders to read, browse, and focus on the main website elements more easily while significantly reducing distractions.
Blindness Mode: this mode configures the website to be compatible with screen-readers such as JAWS, NVDA, VoiceOver, and TalkBack. A screen-reader is software for blind users that is installed on a computer and smartphone, and websites must be compatible with it.
Keyboard Navigation Profile (Motor-Impaired): this profile enables motor-impaired persons to operate the website using the keyboard Tab, Shift+Tab, and the Enter keys. Users can also use shortcuts such as “M” (menus), “H” (headings), “F” (forms), “B” (buttons), and “G” (graphics) to jump to specific elements.
Additional UI, design, and readability adjustments
Font adjustments – users, can increase and decrease its size, change its family (type), adjust the spacing, alignment, line height, and more.
Color adjustments – users can select various color contrast profiles such as light, dark, inverted, and monochrome. Additionally, users can swap color schemes of titles, texts, and backgrounds, with over 7 different coloring options.
Animations – epileptic users can stop all running animations with the click of a button. Animations controlled by the interface include videos, GIFs, and CSS flashing transitions.
Content highlighting – users can choose to emphasize important elements such as links and titles. They can also choose to highlight focused or hovered elements only.
Audio muting – users with hearing devices may experience headaches or other issues due to automatic audio playing. This option lets users mute the entire website instantly.
Cognitive disorders – we utilize a search engine that is linked to Wikipedia and Wiktionary, allowing people with cognitive disorders to decipher meanings of phrases, initials, slang, and others.
Additional functions – we provide users the option to change cursor color and size, use a printing mode, enable a virtual keyboard, and many other functions.
Browser and assistive technology compatibility
We aim to support the widest array of browsers and assistive technologies as possible, so our users can choose the best fitting tools for them, with as few limitations as possible. Therefore, we have worked very hard to be able to support all major systems that comprise over 95% of the user market share including Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Apple Safari, Opera and Microsoft Edge, JAWS and NVDA (screen readers), both for Windows and for MAC users.
Notes, comments, and feedback
Despite our very best efforts to allow anybody to adjust the website to their needs, there may still be pages or sections that are not fully accessible, are in the process of becoming accessible, or are lacking an adequate technological solution to make them accessible. Still, we are continually improving our accessibility, adding, updating and improving its options and features, and developing and adopting new technologies. All this is meant to reach the optimal level of accessibility, following technological advancements. For any assistance, please reach out to