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Chief Kelly LaRocca’s education event draws a packed crowd to the Scugog Community Recreation

DAN CEARNS The Standard

SCUGOG: Before the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, on Thursday, September 29th, Mississaugas of Scugog Island First Nation (MSIFN) Chief Kelly LaRocca provided local residents with a free public information event, at the Scugog Community Recreation Centre.

In front of a packed room, Chief LaRocca spoke about issues such as cultural awareness, residential schools and the Williams Treaties from a historical and law perspective.

This event was a partnership between Scugog Township, the Scugog Council for the Arts (SCA) and the MSIFN.

“The Township had been working with our council on the roads agreement negotiations, and we had committed to each other we would do a public education event. But, because of [COVID-19], things got delayed. Then the Scugog Council for the Arts approached me, individually as well, saying they wanted me to do some kind of public education event. So we just joined forces and made it happen together,” Chief LaRocca explained to The Standard.

At the very start of her presentation; Scugog CAO Ken Nix said, it would be “deep, emotional,” with a lot of information.

The local Chief used anecdotes and first nation perspective to bring the human connection to the information she was providing.

“We can’t explain the context of Indigenous Canada in a sound bite, and I’m very grateful for the people who came out tonight,” Chief LaRocca said. “It’s so much more effective to share the personal stories and anecdotes attached to the materials because it makes it human and it makes it real. Much more connectivity can be made with a person, rather than just reading the text on a page or a screen.”

When it comes to how people can support first nations people with reconciliation, Chief LaRocca stressed the importance of “listening and learning.”

At the end of her presentation, every attendee rose to give her a standing ovation.

“I was a little surprised by the standing ovation. That was very lovely,” Chief LaRocca said.

Mr. Nix said he is hopeful the Township can “continue this type of dialogue.” With the success of this event, Chief LaRocca stated she “would be more than happy to do other public education events with the [Township] or SCA or any other organization or group.”

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