First Nation 'will not accept' disrespect of sacred grounds

The chief of Fort William First Nation says the community is upset by an act of destruction on Mount McKay in Thunder Bay.

Anishinabek police in Thunder Bay investigating damage to sacred grounds on Mount McKay

People took their trucks four-by-fouring through the field on Mount McKay in Thunder Bay that First Nations consider to be sacred. (Nicole Ireland/CBC)

The chief of Fort William First Nation says the community is upset by an act of destruction on Mount McKay in Thunder Bay.

Earlier this week, trucks tore up sacred ground near the toll booth. Georjann Morriseau said she believes the people involved were four-by-fouring.

The perpetrators need to be held accountable — but may also need to be educated, she said.

"I ... would like to sit with them and be able to talk to them about ... the meaning of our mountain and how those types of actions impact the entire First Nation and how it impacts members individually."

Morriseau noted there is a need for people to learn about First Nations values.

"Whether it was out of ignorance or just to go and have fun, either way I see there must be some sort of a disconnect there," she said.

"I think that's something that we need to address as a First Nation … we need to give them a little bit of an education and awareness on the sacredness of that mountain and of those grounds."

The Anishinabek police service said it is investigating the incident and will lay charges against at least one person later this week.

‘Angry and saddened’

Morriseau noted the people responsible were not from the First Nation.

If the matter proceeds to court, she said she would attend and ask for meaningful restitution.

"If ... you felt that you had the right and you were entitled to come out to our community and tear up our grounds and treat it disrepectfully ... you can come out and you can repair the grounds that you destroyed with your vehicles," she said.

"You know, it may just be land and grass to others, but I mean to us ... that's where we go for balance, that's where we go for guidance and direction and that is a piece of each and every one of us who belong to Fort William First Nation and other surrounding communities," she said. 

Besides the damage to the ground the incident caused, she said it shows a lack of respect.

"It's heart wrenching to know that people would do this," she said.

"You know, it's like walking into somebody's home and wiping your muddy shoes all over the floor.  You wouldn't do that.  So why come into our home and do that? I'm extremely angry and saddened."

Morriseau said this has happened before, when the same sort of thing happened to the Pow Wow grounds at the top of the mountain last year.

"It's not acceptable and we will not accept it."