The City of Guelph deeply values its relationships with Indigenous community members and governments. Building a community that supports us means meeting people where they are and in ways that are familiar to them.
As part of ongoing work to improve how the City engages with Indigenous community members, staff introduced Indigenous Sharing Circles - a collaborative effort between several City departments to bring Indigenous community members, knowledge keepers, and City employees together to get to know each other.
The City has committed to regularly engaging in Indigenous Sharing Circles, centred on broadening connections with Indigenous community members. This important commitment includes a willingness to listen, learn and respect Indigenous peoples’ rights and ways of being.
These Indigenous Sharing Circles focus on wide-ranging themes, not projects, and will deepen relationships with community members who have been underserved, underrepresented and overlooked in municipal policy and decision making.
Indigenous Sharing Circles aren’t like committee meetings, focus groups, or traditional engagement. They are unique in that they are the City’s response to what has been heard from the Indigenous community about conversations being the preferred way to engage; a place where everyone is equal, there’s no agenda, there’s space for ceremony and storytelling, and the focus is on growing relationships and building an understanding of Indigenous ways of knowing and being.
Much has already been gathered through these activities, including a deep thankfulness for the City’s commitment to listening, building trust and relationships among and with Indigenous people living in the Guelph area. Staff also heard a lot about ways the City can improve communication and connections with the Indigenous communities, about challenges faced by Indigenous people living in Guelph and about Indigenous land use and preservation, enhancement and conservation on the land in which we live and work.
The City is committed to strengthening its inclusion, diversity, equity and accessibility programming, and this is just one of several ways we’re already making progress.