Why changing a Waterloo, Ont., summer camp’s name ‘is what reconciliation looks like’

A POPULAR summer time camp held at Laurel Creek Conservation House in Waterloo, Ont., has changed its title in a transfer local Indigenous leaders say is an even instance of reconciliation.

Camp OK is administered by St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church in Kitchener. 

It not too long ago modified its title to stop using a word, created to sound Indigenous, that is a play on the phrase “come on, i need to go.”

“It Is appropriating that language inflection that’s Indigenous,” mentioned Amy Smoke, who’s Mohawk Country Turtle Extended Family from Six International Locations of the Grand River and a co-founding father of Land Again Camp, which operated at Laurel Creek in the summer of 2021.

Bangishimo Johnston, who also co-based the Land Back Camp, mentioned Camp OKAY was arrange a brief distance from the Land Again Camp website online and so they may listen the campers sing O Canada every morning.

“As an Indigenous community, you want to inform how uncomfortable we have been in this house that we created, this decolonial space for our campers,” Johnston informed CBC Kitchener-Waterloo.

On July 1, which was celebrated through Camp OKAY as Canada Day, Smoke stated a few of the folks at Land Back Camp went to speak to the folk running the summer season camp to give an explanation for it was “truly offensive and never an excellent time at this time to be celebrating Canada,” given the detection of human continues to be at web sites of former residential college sites.

“That led them to take our issues back to their new reverend,” Smoke mentioned.

Smoke and Johnston said Rev. Marty Molengraaf then visited their site, introduced tobacco and sat with them in ceremony. they say he listened to them. Smoke and Johnston presented to talk to the church’s camp committee, however Molengraaf stated that wasn’t vital.

“He was like, ‘No, it’s incorrect. i’m going to inform them why. We’re going to say sorry and we are going to modify the name,'” Johnston stated.

“For me, that is what reconciliation seems like,” Johnston said. “that is allyship. that is status up for us.”

‘Wrong identify’

Molengraaf informed CBC Kitchener-Waterloo the decision was once a “no-brainer.”

Jackee Arlein-Roth, convener of the Camp OKAY committee, also recommended for the title modification. She stated it used to be clear that in the event that they adopted the camp’s values of inclusion, deal with each other and deal with the surroundings, then amendment was essential.

“When Camp K initially was once began up, their standpoint on it was once the name was once only a simple play on phrases, purported to be amusing,” she mentioned. “At that time, it was most likely the inaccurate title and i think historical past could let us know it was.”

She stated that when having discussions with Land Back Camp, the church also consulted the Ontario Camps Association to get their perspective on how other camps went about changing their names.

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They Have Got known as it Camp K informally for 25 years, Arlein-Roth said, so it made feel to make that official. The title modification was once passed unanimously by means of the church committee and likewise at a consultation with church participants.

On top of the name modification, Camp K started a land reputation closing summer time in order to proceed going forward, she stated.

Renaming camp a ‘concrete action’

Camp OK isn’t the primary camp to change its identify. This month, camps in Muskoka became Campfire Circle, retiring the names Camp Ooch and Camp Trillium.

The Campfire Circle web site notes it changed the title to reconcile for having used Indigenous names and tradition in the earlier.

“we’ve got used the Oochigeas and Teomul title and Mi’kmaq and Maliseet legend to build the group due to the fact that its founding in 1983. We acknowledge this used to be done without permission from the ones communities and for that we ask for forgiveness,” the gang says on its website, noting it labored with Indigenous elders to return up with a brand new moniker.

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Tad McIlwraith, an anthropology associate professor on the University of Guelph, has researched the use of Indigenous culture at Canadian summer time camps. 

McIlwraith mentioned he can’t talk from the Indigenous enjoy, but from his research, converting a camp’s name will also be a vital step. 

“It does constitute a concrete action and urban movements are necessary within the development of reconciliation,” he stated in an e-mail to CBC Kitchener-Waterloo.

“The renaming of a camp additionally can’t be the only or final action. i would desire that it could represent a beginning of a reconciliation process.”

Desire others will be told from revel in

Arlein-Roth said she appreciates folks from the Land Back Camp spoke to Camp OKAY, and stated her best fear is camp officers did not consider having the dialog sooner.

For Johnston, the way the church treated their considerations was essential. instead of making the Indigenous community talk to a bunch about why this camp was once causing harm, the church took that on.

“He did keep us the time, the trauma … the tension of getting to head in entrance of a white committee and voice our concerns, which Indigenous other folks would not have to do,” Johnston said.

“It Is nice to peer these adjustments happening and i wish that more firms or groups throughout the region will step up and be told from those stories, be informed from the stairs that St. Andrews has taken.”

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