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City Introduces Aboriginal Liaison at Fall Feast

October 22, 2008 – Mayor Lynn Peterson today hosted a traditional Aboriginal Fall Feast at the Métis Nation on May Street to introduce the City's new Aboriginal Liaison, Anna Gibbon to the community and Aboriginal organizations.

As outlined in the Building on the New Foundation Strategic Plan, the Aboriginal Liaison will work with a committee to develop an Aboriginal Liaison Strategy that will work inclusively with Aboriginal people. The establishment of the Aboriginal Liaison Office is strategic initiative number 42 under Council's strategic priorities to provide a high quality of life to all citizens.

"Today is a day of `firsts'," said Mayor Lynn Peterson. "This is the first time the City has ever hosted a fall feast and the first time the Corporation and representatives of its various departments have come to meet the Anishnawbek, Métis, and Urban Aboriginal communities enmass. I am proud to introduce the new Aboriginal Liaison and begin building stronger relationships with the Aboriginal communities. These relationships will be rooted in respectful and meaningful dialogue to share ideas, resources and opportunities that will contribute to a higher quality of life for all residents."

"I am honored to be given the opportunity to work with our Anishnawbek, Métis and Urban Aboriginal communities as the City's Aboriginal Liaison," said Anna Gibbon. "This position is the direct result of Council's recognition of the growing aboriginal population, their unique needs and challenges, and the opportunities partnerships with the various Aboriginal communities provide. I look forward to building strong and healthy relationships that will create a higher quality of life for everyone in Thunder Bay."

"Introducing an Aboriginal Liaison to the City will assist in strengthening Aboriginal Relations on many levels," said Gary Lipinski, Métis Nation of Ontario President. "I applaud the City for taking this step to ensure that Aboriginal voices are heard and that our culture and heritage stand strong."

Attendees of the feast also viewed the unveiling of the newly installed mural on the Métis Nation of Ontario building located on May Street. The 16' x 32' mural, "Métis Voyageurs", was designed by artists Chris Rantala and Brian Cronk and depicts Fort William on the Kaministiqua River. The Métis Nation of Ontario was one of five grant recipients under the Murals Grant Program, a pilot program launched in May to provide grants for public murals as part of the Fort William Neighbourhood Renewal Plan.

"Murals as public art are a wonderful way to tell our stories as a multi-cultural community," said Mayor Lynn Peterson. "The colourful stories being told in this work will go a long way in beautifying the neighbourhood, bringing members of the community together, and inspiring pride for our history and culture across Thunder Bay."
"The Métis Nation is proud to be a part of the Murals Grant Program which allows us to visualize a significant piece of Métis history," added Lipinski. "The Voyageur Canoe paddling past Fort William is a true depiction of the rich Métis culture that lives deep within the Thunder Bay community."

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Contact: Anna Gibbon, Aboriginal Liaison, 625-2146