ORILLIA Parks Canada advises that re-installation of the Samuel de Champlain statue as part of the monument in the City of Orillia’s Couchiching Beach Park has been deferred to allow for additional progress on the implementation of the Samuel de Champlain Monument Working Group recommendations.

The plan is on hold pending “more consultation and decision-making regarding the future interpretation and representation of the First Nations story, with the goal of honouring the past within the context of contemporary knowledge and wisdom,” says a Parks Canada release.

In 2018, this working group was formed with representatives from Parks Canada, the City of Orillia, the Chippewas of Rama First Nation, the Huron-Wendat Nation, the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario, and two citizens-at-large from Orillia.

The group had the mandate to pursue public consultation and to recommend to city council and Parks Canada an appropriate path forward for the Champlain Monument that is respectful and representative of both Indigenous and non-Indigenous perspectives.

The final report, recommendations and appendix of the working group was posted on the city’s website ( July 22, 2019, and accepted by Parks Canada the same day.

After further consideration and discussions with concerned parties, it has been determined that it would be appropriate and respectful to approach the implementation of these recommendations in a holistic manner.

Parks Canada says it remains committed to working with its partners to implement the recommendations of the Working Group, including the reinstallation of the statue of Samuel de Champlain.

Phase 2 of the consultation process will be reconvened in the coming weeks on a priority basis. Some minor cleaning work will take place on the site in the coming days to remove paint from the stairs.

The agency says it remain committed to reconciliation and renewed relationships with Indigenous peoples, based on recognition of rights, respect, co-operation, and partnership.

“As stewards of Canada’s natural and cultural heritage, Parks Canada is a leader in preserving Canada’s cultural heritage and fostering public understanding. Working collaboratively with Indigenous peoples and citizens of Orillia in honouring their contributions to our shared heritage and history is a priority.”

Parks Canada wants more time to get the relationship between Samual de Champlain and Indigenous people correct before re-installing the Orillia landmark overlooking Lake Couchiching. Concerns were expressed that the First Nations members at the base appeared subservient, rather than equal partners in his mapping work.