Indigenous Placemaking at Island Lake Conservation Area

Graphic of seating area, surrounded by greenspace, lake in background.

Recognizing and Honouring Indigenous Culture

Nestled at the northern trailhead of the Credit Valley Trail (CVT), at Island Lake Conservation Area, is the future site of the Crane Gathering Space.

The Crane Gathering Space is an Indigenous-led and collaborative project that is connected to experience planning along the CVT. This groundbreaking project is the first cultural feature along the trail that will recognize and honour Indigenous knowledge, history and present-day culture through placemaking.

Once complete, the Crane Gathering Space will be an inclusive space for community-building, teaching, ceremony and events, and will nurture connections between Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities.

The First of Seven Sites

The Crane Gathering Space takes inspiration from the Anishinaabe Ajijaak (Crane) dodem – a unit of social organization to define kinship (source: Darin Wybenga, member of the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation). The Ajijaak (crane) is the speaker for the clan and comes before the others; it’s an announcer for things to come.

A deeply symbolic element of this cultural feature as the Crane Gathering Space is the first of seven key sites that will be constructed along the CVT to represent Indigenous placemaking. The name is also fitting because the sandhill crane uses Island Lake as a stopover site during its annual migration.

A round stone wall with a lake in the background
Completed dry stone wall and seating at the Crane Gathering Space (photo taken in October 2022).

Construction on Track

Construction began on the main gathering space in summer 2022. Once complete, the space will include a ceremonial fire pit, stone masonry seating, wood lattice enclosure and wood deck pier, and fishing-weir tripods. The dry stone wall and seating pictured above has been completed by Dean McLellan Stonework and Saugeen First Nation dry stone wallers.

The helical pile foundations (which anchors and stabilizes the structure) and flagstone paving have been installed, and temporary construction signage has also been added to the site. Custom metalwork is being provided by Lafontaine Iron Works.

The installation of all components and boardwalk construction is provided by Sunshine Landscape Design and Construction. The final steps for completion of this space include installing site signage and planting Indigenous medicinal plants. The Crane Gathering Space is on-track to be complete by June 2023.

The Significance of the Crane Gathering Space in the Watershed

The CVT weaves through the Credit River Watershed – from the headwaters of the Credit River in Orangeville to Lake Ontario in Mississauga – and is situated on the Treaty Lands and Territory of the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation (MCFN) and the traditional territory of the Huron-Wendat and Haudenosaunee. Empowering Indigenous People is central to the CVT vision. The Crane Gathering Space is the first step in the journey to recognize and honour Indigenous territories, knowledge and culture in the watershed. 

The vison of the Crane Gathering Space is guided by the CVT Indigenous Roundtable, an Indigenous-led community groups with representation from the MCFN, Cree and Huron-Wendat First Nation. The site was created, designed and driven by Indigenous communities and underpinned by Indigenous knowledge. 

This space symbolizes cultural identity, presence, contributions and voices of Indigenous Peoples. It will advance the goals of truth and reconciliation through community-building, teaching and ceremony. The Crane Gathering Space will ensure Indigenous Peoples have a rightful place to connect with the land and water, and celebrate culture, language and traditional knowledge.

Learn more about the project or support the Crane Gathering Space.

By Jamie Williams, Specialist, Marketing and Communications

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Please donate today and help ensure that Indigenous Peoples have a rightful place to connect with the land and water and engage with Indigenous culture, language and traditional knowledge.

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