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Aamjiwnaang chief leads swearing-in ceremony for new Sarnia council

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The relationship between the City of Sarnia and the Aamjiwnaang First Nation featured prominently when the new City Council was officially sworn in on November 15.

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“We’ve been through great challenges, but we keep talking and talking and talking to each other,” newly re-elected Mayor Mike Bradley said emotionally, “and I think that’s critically important to any relationship. “

Aamjiwnaang Chief Chris Plain led the ceremony, which included a territorial recognition and kindergarten students from Aamjiwnaang Binoojiinyag Kino Maagewgamgoons Early Learning Center singing O Canada to mark the occasion.

The chief, meanwhile, noted that water and sewage lines through the Lambton area water supply system, police and fire protection agreements with the city, and Ongoing shared projects to improve First Nation infrastructure have helped residents feel safer and more comfortable.

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“Because forever and for a long time, we never really felt safe,” Plain said. “We always wanted to stay together.”

The leader urged the new council – Bradley and councilors Bill Dennis, Brian White, Chrissy McRoberts, Dave Boushy, Adam Kilner, Anne Marie Gillis, George Vandenberg and Terry Burrell – to continue investing in things like sidewalks and streetlights in the First Nation territory.

Plain noted that more than 195 years have passed since the signing of the 1827 treaty that ceded their lands to the British colonial government.

Aamjiwnaang First Nation Chief Chris Plain leads the inaugural meeting of the 2022-2026 Sarnia City Council on November 15.  Lambton County Warden Kevin Marriott looks on.  Tyler Kula/Postmedia
Aamjiwnaang First Nation Chief Chris Plain leads the inaugural meeting of the 2022-2026 Sarnia City Council on November 15. Lambton County Warden Kevin Marriott looks on. Tyler Kula/Postmedia

“Here we are, almost 200 years later, and we are finally starting to see a connection between the city of Sarnia and Aamjiwnaang, and it took time and it developed,” he said. “I want to thank the mayor and the members of the city council, as well as the former members of the city council, for bringing these two communities together, so that we feel more comfortable with each other.”

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Bradley said he “cherished” the town’s relationship with the neighboring First Nation over the years. The 11-term mayor also shared a joke with Plain, a nine-term leader, about their shared political longevity.

In his subsequent speech, Bradley reiterated his vision for the upcoming term, including ongoing initiatives such as the waterfront and city growth plans, while getting debt under control and taking care of the essentials. before considering bigger projects amid recession and inflation concerns.

He credited the previous council with having “weathered through the toughest pandemic in 100 years”, praising “stable leadership” which “kept taxes low and reduced debt further”.

Ongoing goals include growing and diversifying the city’s population with a college-led immigration strategy, as well as growing an economic base that isn’t reliant on petrochemicals, he said. .

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“We can lead the change,” he said. “Hydrogen pole and all the things we have here that other communities don’t have.”

Bradley also highlighted the importance of social issues like homelessness and addictions, saying there should be discussions about the city’s increased role in decision-making when the City and County of Lambton enter discussions. on the renewal of the agreement.

“How it works and how it’s going to be, I don’t know,” he said, “but I want to have this discussion.”

Terry Mills led the council in and out of the ceremony as the oath of office was administered by Justice Paul Kowalyshyn, whose late father served on the council for years.

In its first vote, the board unanimously agreed to appoint Coun. Bill Dennis as acting mayor, a position that involves carrying out the mayor’s actions, including chairing council meetings, when Bradley is unavailable.

The position for the first year of the mandate goes to the councilor who obtained the most votes in the municipal elections, then passes each year to the next councilor on the vote-sharing list.

The order for this term is Dennis, Chrissy McRoberts, Brian White and Dave Boushy.

Outgoing MP Mike Stark was also honored for his service.

Bradley urged advisers to be respectful, engaged and visionary.

“If you bring the community in and they agree with you and accept the direction…then you can do great things,” he said.

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