Special Achievement Award

 Special Achievement Award Recipient

The award, presented by the Heritage Toronto Board of Directors, provides special recognition to those individuals who have made exceptional contributions to the preservation and education of Toronto’s heritage.

Heritage Toronto is honoured to name Carolyn King as the recipient of the 2016 Special Achievement Award, in recognition of her decades-long efforts to preserve the Mississaugas of New Credit First Nations’ community and to celebrate and share First Nation heritage in the greater Toronto area.

Carolyn King

Carolyn King (Image courtesy of Carolyn King)

The first woman elected as chief of the Mississaugas in 1997, Carolyn King is a voice of the Mississauga people and their land claim over territory that is now part of the City of Toronto. In 1998, she wrote to the Indians Claims Commission requesting an inquiry into the rejection of the Toronto Purchase claim, which had been previously brought forward and rejected in 1993. Her individual inquiry led to a 1998 conference, where the First Nations community asserted that the crown had failed to disclose the full extent of the surrendered land in the 1805 treaty and that the Mississaugas had no knowledge that the Toronto Islands were part of the purchase. Canada agreed to review the claim and over 10 years later in 2010 provided a settlement to the Mississauga people, to compensate for the unreasonably low price paid as part of the original Purchase treaty, and officially recognized the Mississaugas’ claim to the territory.

Carolyn has continued to emphasize that the land surrounding Toronto is sacred and traditional space of the Mississauga people. In her own words, the Mississauga region “is where our people travelled and settled…we’re still here, we’re still alive and we’re just 70 miles away.” From delivering a lecture entitled “Indians 101: who are the Aboriginal people in Canada today?” to leading a walking tour that discusses the Toronto Islands as a healing retreat of the Anishinabek people, Carolyn has worked closely with numerous organizations to preserve the Mississaugas’ heritage and communicate the history and culture of First Nations in Canada. Her latest project has been to improve the Mississaugas’ mapping of sacred sites or areas of historical importance, an online learning tool for the public. She has been a facilitator and catalyst for heritage preservation, acting as Vice President of the Toronto Historical Association and a member of the Heritage Advisory Committee for Toronto’s Official Plan Review.

She continues to advocate that First Nation peoples should be consulted during new development projects and has assumed this role in a number of projects. Since 2011, she has worked with the Planning With Indigenous Peoples research group at Queen’s University to ensure that the Ontario Provincial Policy Statement (PPS) recognized First Nations peoples in 2014. She has been involved in the review of the Greenbelt Plan, a provincial action plan for land that is traditional Mississaugas territory, and she has been a consultant for the Credit Valley Lakeview Waterfront Environmental Assessment Project.

Her efforts within her community and with multiple other organizations has allowed for the planning of a better future of the Mississaugas. In general, Carolyn has been a key figure in creating cross-cultural conversation and helping to develop a better understanding of First Nations in the Greater Toronto Area.