Let's build a First Nations Heritage Centre!

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Added: Wed, 06/20/2018 - 10:45pm
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Carl Hager
Éditorialiste Invitée
Guest Editorialist

It is time for us to discuss, plan and construct a pro-First Nations statement by building a world class First Nations Heritage Centre right here in the Pontiac. It will celebrate our area’s indigenous past and recognize a constructive new future. But, is there sufficient will for such a
project? 
The Pontiac was a dynamic hive of economic, cultural and social enterprise for thousands of years. The First Nations people made the Pontiac their home and communities nestled along the mighty Ottawa River. English and French
immigrants found value in trading with the First Nations people and friendships were forged as fur traders explored deeper into the territory. As the richness of the economic exchanges grew, so did rivalries, greed and war as the technological might of the invaders eventually overwhelmed the First Peoples.
Such a centre would require huge investments of human and financial
capital and requires forethought and inspired thinking. Celebrating our past will reveal to the world stories that must be preserved, told and that disclose the
truth about our past and shared experiences, while acknowledging different perspectives on what transpired. Let’s face it: tearing children from their families and placing them in cruel residential schools needs to be exposed, so, as it is said about numerous other social catastrophes, “never again” will it happen.
The talk of a renewed Pontiac includes the idea of a tourism circuit through the region, linked to the urban centres of Ottawa and Montréal, and northern New York State, beckoning people from overseas. Such a circuit plans to feature all that is glorious about the Pontiac: farm and cultural activities like the annual artist tours, the wineries, forestry—a historical review of the harvests of the past (the Ottawa River is strewn with tens of thousands of logs on the river bottom), sport activities
such as white water rafting, fishing and hunting, and culinary adventures that are yet to be developed, and the imminent offerings from the new cannabis industry.
A First Nations Heritage Centre could be an international tourism magnet that finds its rightful place in this exciting future. It can be a centre that educates
not only tourists, but students who will visit to learn about and experience
life here. Much talk has transpired about the federal government making amends with First Nations people. There would be no better way to bring justice to their
stories than a massive investment in such a project. Consolidate the partners; find the political and financial will; build the centre in the Pontiac!