In connection with National Indigenous History Month in June, we thought we would explore a relatively lesser-known connection to Indigenous history here with the City of Mississauga. But first, we have to paint the background picture.
The Town of Mississauga came to be on January 1, 1968. Our former name was Toronto Township, but we could not become the Town of Toronto in 1968 as the City of Toronto already had the name, even though we had the older claim to it, but I digress …
The name “Mississauga” was chosen by popular vote in 1967 for the name of our new town. But one (of many) challenges to using the name “Mississauga” for the new town was that the name itself belonged to another group of people – the Mississaugas of the New Credit First Nation (today known as the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation). Acknowledging that the new town was on the traditional lands of the Mississaugas, township council decided that they needed to build a relationship with the Mississaugas in order to obtain permission to use the name. In late 1967 township council, led by Reeve Robert Speck, approached the Band Council at New Credit and gained permission to use the name.
Flash forward to January 1, 1968: the new name was unveiled (or perhaps it is more accurate to say “illuminated”) to the crowd of dignitaries and onlookers at Confederation Square in Cooksville, in front of the old Town Hall. Toronto Township Reeve Robert Speck became the new Mayor of the Town of Mississauga. Serving with Mayor Speck on the first Council for the Town of Mississauga were Reeve Charles “Chic” Murray, Deputy Reeve Roy McMillan, and Councillors Harold Kennedy, Lou Parsons, Caye Killaby, Grant Clarkson, Jack Kehoe, Frank McKechnie and Ron Searle.
Amongst other guests on hand were representatives from the Mississaugas, including Chief Fred King, his wife Anna Marion Louise King, and Sylvester Laforme.
At the official ceremonies on that chilly January day in 1968, Chief Fred King presented Mayor Speck with a medicine stick and deer skin scroll as a token of good luck to the Town. In return Mayor Speck presented Chief King with a scroll and a gold key. Unfortunately, there is a lot that we do not know, or was not recorded and preserved, about that ceremony. One newspaper report referenced that as part of the ceremony on January 1, 1968 Chief Fred King was also made the honourary first citizen of the Town of Mississauga.
While the whereabouts of the scroll and gold key that were given to the Mississaugas are not known, another symbol of friendship between the Town of Mississauga and the Mississaugas is preserved. On July 20, 1968, the Mississaugas of the New Credit First Nation hosted a “Mississauga Day”, inviting the council members and residents of the Town of Mississauga to the New Credit Reserve for a picnic and games. The Mayor and Council of the Town of Mississauga presented a scroll to Chief Fred King granting the “Honorary Freedom of the Town” to the Council and Members of the “Mississaugas of the New Credit Reserve” and was ”evidence of the desire by the town to develop a bond of affection and regard with the descendants of the (Indigenous) inhabitants of this area, from whence the name originated.”
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