Daughter of 250 Year Old Black Oak

A Celebration of Mississaugas of New Credit First Nation’s Successful Land Claim

 On the morning of Sunday, October 17th 2010 a small expedition set forth from Toronto bound for the Mississaugas of the New Credit First Nation near Hagarsville Ontario. David Wallace was the van driver and Lisette Mallet of the Societe d’Histoire de Toronto, their two sons and Madeleine McDowell, Chair of the Humber Heritage Committee joined him on the journey. Most importantly an eight year-old black oak, daughter of a 250-year old tree of the High Park Savannah gene pool, raised by David Orsini, along with a bag of germinating acorns from an ancient white oak in Queens Park, Toronto made up the entire troop.

 Earlier in the year, at the end of May, the MIssissaugas of the New Credit First Nation had reached a Settlement Agreement with the Government of Canada of their Land Claim from the Toronto Purchase of 1805. Finally after over two centuries a meeting in June between the Mayor and members of Toronto City Council and the Chief and members of the Mississauga First Nation in Toronto Council Chambers celebrated the settlement.

Madeleine McDowell, Chair, Humber Heritage Committee and the black oak

A planting was done by the Sacred Tree Fund on the Reserve in May of mainly birch trees, the birch being the sacred tree of the Mississaugas. However, the expedition members wanted to take some of the original Toronto oak savannah gene pool to plant ~ daughters of trees that had been canopy when Toronto lands had been Mississauga territory. They wanted to establish a living symbol of the bond between Toronto’s old forest and its people, then and now, as recognition and celebration of the Land Claim settlement and the roots of the People.

When the expedition arrived they were met, as arranged by Carolyn King, the Mississauga’s elected Chief in 1999, who had persuaded the Government of Canada to allow the Land Claim to be raised, and by Margaret Sault, the historian of the Mississaugas of the New Credit.

The New Credit had recently completed the memorial to their Veterans in the form of a Mound in the middle of a sacred circle of mature oaks. They planted the young and historic Toronto black oak in a space in the circle near an old tree that was starting to show signs of failing. A piece of their Toronto history is destined to grow into the Memorial Circle. There were Mississaugas defending Canada from American attacks in 1812 as well as in WWI, WWII and Korea. We buried most of the little acorns from the three-century old Queen’s Park white oak in the area, a short distance from the Circle Mound.

l to r: Margaret Salt, Historian, New Credit; Lisette Mallet, Societe d’histoire de Toronto; Madeleine McDowell, Carolyn King, First elected Chief of Mississaugas New Credit First Nation

David Wallace took photos and the four women got credit for the planting, that being the women’s pervue in the traditional matriarchal society of the Mississaugas. The women exchanged hugs and the expedition went on to Port Dover for lunch by the definitely non-native palm trees on Lake Erie. It was a wonderful and meaningful mingle with history and our heritage roots, natural and cultural!

By Madeleine McDowell