Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation (La Premiere Nation des Mississaugas de Credit) Community Profile
Past and Present
Kyle Sault and R. Stacey Laforme
Graphics by Shelda Martin
After several years of consultation, the logo of the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation was accepted in 1993. The Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation is part of the Ojibwe (Anishinaabe) Nation. The symbols on the logo are representative of five important aspects of our Nation’s history:
The Eagle is used because it is the predominant totem of Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation. The Eagle is viewed as the messenger—the Mississaugas were once considered to be great messengers, some days, traveling up to 80 miles on foot.
- Three Fires…
The three fires is symbolic of the Mississaugas’ traditional and political alliance with the Ojibwe, Odawa, and Pottawatomi Nations. A council, the Three Fires Council, was established and still exists today.
- The Circle of Life…
Within this category there are two aspects. One, First Nations teach that every living thing is related and interconnected—we are all a part of the Circle of Life. Secondly, the blue writing symbolizes the interconnectedness to the traditional territory of the Mississaugas of the Credit, the Credit River and Lake Ontario.
- The Peace Pipe…
The Peace Pipe is the Mississauga People’s equivalent of a Parliamentary Mace. The pipe was given to the Mississauga Peter Jones by Queen Victoria’s cousin Augustus d’este. It is used in special opening ceremonies to thank the great spirit, mother earth, and the sun.
The Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation is part of the Ojibwe (Anishinaabe) Nation, one of the largest Aboriginal Nations in North America. George Copway, an Ojibwe Missionary, and Methodist Minister, notes that “those now called the Messasaugans, settled in Canada west, after the years 1634 and 1635.”
A word in the Anishinaabemowin language translates:
“Missisakis” into “many river mouths.” By the mid-nineteenth century, the Mississaugas believed they had obtained their name from the mouths of the Trent, Moira, Shannon, Napanee, Kingston, and Gananoque rivers. The term New Credit was in reference to the relocation of the Credit River Mississaugas in 1847. The Mississaugas traded goods with “English fur traders [who] would extend credit to the Mississaugas.” The word “new” was dropped from the reference to the community by official council motion in December 2018.
The Mississaugas earned a reputation as a trustworthy people who, when extended credit, would always pay back the fur traders the following spring.
The term First Nation is derived from the fact that the Mississaugas are Indigenous (First) people of this continent and are a separate Nation which should be dealt with on a government-to-government basis.
In the Mid-Eighteenth Century, the Ojibwe occupied almost all of Southern Ontario. The Mississauga people’s ancestors themselves owned all of the territory from Long Point on Lake Erie to the headwaters of the Thames, Grand, Humber and Rouge Rivers.
The Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation reserve near Hagersville, Ontario, is approximately 6,100 acres. This small land holding in Southwestern Ontario is all that remains of their once expansive property.
When the French arrived in Canada, the Ojibwe were living around the shores of Lakes Huron, and Superior. In the spring, families joined together to fish and collect maple sugar. In the fall, they would harvest wild rice. During the winter months, the Ojibwe hunted and trapped in small family units. Furs were traded with the French in exchange for European goods. To the South lived a different group, with a different language and culture. They were the Iroquois groups, the Hurons and the Iroquois Five Nations. After routing the Hurons, the Five Nations attacked the Ojibwe who had sheltered many refugee Hurons. The Ojibwe defeated the invaders in several battles on Lake Superior, then on Lake Huron. By 1700, they had conquered most of Southern Ontario.
With the Ojibwe defeat of the Iroquois, and the dispersal of the Hurons, the entire area was now inhabited by Ojibwe tribes. Some of the Ojibwe who went South came from the Mississagi River area on the North shore of North Channel, which is located at the head of Lake Huron. Consequently, the French and later on, others, termed these Indians, “Mississauga Indians.” Although a majority of the Ojibwe remained in the Lake Huron and Georgian Bay areas, the band from the Mississagi River began to drift towards the Southeast section of Upper Canada.
As the tribe travelled, they eventually came to the river where one group continued to drift south and the other group began to follow the direction of the river flowing southeast. The Mississaugas travelled along the river until they came to Lake Ontario. While they may have wandered along the shores of this lake, their favourite camping grounds were at the mouth of the river. This river became known as the Credit River.
By the third decade of the nineteenth century, the Mississaugas were outnumbered by white settlers more than 100 to one. They were beginning to become outcasts in their own land. Many aspects of traditional Mississauga society had changed: their religious practices, their occupations, even their dress. Yet despite this, the Mississaugas still wanted to remain Indigenous people.
When the white settlers began to surround the Indian Village at the River Credit, the head Chief, Joseph Sawyer, called a council with his people to discuss moving to a new area.
On August 6, 1840, Chiefs Joseph Sawyer and John Jones commenced this council meeting and was a topic for the next six years. A decision regarding their relocation was not made until the winter of 1846. Peter Jones achieved chieftainship around 1826. He had been involved in the negotiations of a relocation settlement. By this time, John Jones had retired from council and was replaced by his nephew Reverend Peter Jones. All possible relocation sites had been investigated by Chiefs Joseph Sawyer, John and Peter Jones. The prospective sites were found unsatisfactory. Eventually, lands were purchased in Southwold for their people to relocate. In the meantime, the Six Nations Confederacy in Council remembered what the Mississaugas had done for them. A delegation was sent to the River Credit requesting that the Mississaugas relocate to their lands in Tuscarora Township. The Confederacy offered to the Mississaugas, as a gift, 4,800 acres in Tuscarora Township.
Later on, in 1865, the Mississaugas asked for and received an additional 1,200 acres in Oneida Township. On June 15, 1903, the Mississaugas bought the 6,000 acres for the sum of $10,000.00 for the all time right of, and undisturbed use and occupancy of the land. The MCFN Reserve as it stands today consists of lots 1 to 12 in the first and second concessions in the Township of Tuscarora, in the County of Brant and Lots 1 to 6 in the first concession in the Township of Oneida. In 1997, MCFN purchased an additional 59 acres bordering on Highway 6. The Commercial Plaza and Industrial Building, housing a variety of shops and services, are located on this property. In 2000, another parcel of land, known as the Kuiper Property, was purchased by MCFN.
The Mississauga of the Credit were the original owners of the territory embraced in the following description, namely commencing at Long Point on Lake Erie thence eastward along the shore of the Lake to the Niagara River. Then down the River to Lake Ontario, then northward along the shore of the Lake to the River Rouge east of Toronto, then up that river to the dividing ridges to the head waters of the River Thames, then southward to Long Point, the place of the beginning.
Relocation of the Credit River Mississaugas
Approximately 266 members of the Mississaugas of the Credit moved from the Indian Village in May of 1847. Some of the common family names were: Sawyer, Halfday, Finger, Herkimer, King, Chechock, Sault, and LaForme. With the sale of their land at the Credit River they used the money for improvements at the new settlement.
The Elected System began in 1924, but there is documentation stating that the Mississaugas held elections for their Council as early as 1871. The Band would elect councillors who in turn would elect a head Councillor or Chief amongst themselves. The Indian Act allows for band elections to be held every two years. A majority of eligible voters elects one chief and seven councillors.
MCFN membership is now comprised of roughly 2,570 people. Nearly two-thirds of the members live off reserve. Amendments to the Indian Act in 1985 resulted in the Band’s population to increase by 25%. A majority of the reinstated members have stated a desire to relocate to the reserve.
The Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation look to our Anishinaabe roots to guide our vision for the future as a strong, caring, connected community who respects the earth’s gifts and protects the environment for future generations. Our identity includes our history, language, culture, beliefs and traditions which we strive to incorporate into the programs and services offered to our community.
The historic Council House was built in 1882. It served as the seat of Chief and Council and the First Nations programs and services until 1987/88. It is modeled on a standard building type constructed of brick and clap wood. In the 1970s the Council House underwent a series of renovations. The windows replaced taller and slimmer windows with more energy efficient windows. The shutters are still intact but they do not serve any functional use. Carpeting has replaced the wooden floor and some of the walls have been dry walled. A heating system has been installed. Maintenance and care for public buildings are provided by the Public Works Department.
The Three Fires Homecoming Pow Wow and Traditional Gathering is MCFN’s most important cultural event. In 1987 there was a relighting of the fires ceremony, held in Port Credit, after which the fires were carried back to the present-day reserve.
The first pow wow at MCFN was held on the existing baseball field. The following year it was moved to the grove. The grove area has undergone a revitalization project since 2008 to restore the earth to its original state.
The pow wow is a family-oriented event featuring between 200 and 250 participating dancers from across southern Ontario and attracts from 1,000 to 1,500 spectators. About 100 community volunteers work year-round to make the event a success.
Formerly known as the New Credit Methodist Church, the church became the New Credit United Church of Canada in 1925. The late Lloyd S. King, a community historian and elder, states the New Credit United Church was dedicated July 27, 1852.
Reverend Enoch Wood, President of the Methodist Conference, was in charge of the dedication. Reverend Peter Jones was a special minister at the dedication ceremony when the church was open.
The simple frame building was erected by local labour. It is a gothic style building with polychrome brickwork. This same pattern of brickwork is found on the home of Peter Jones, known as Echo Villa, located in the city of Brantford, Ontario. The original church was made of clapboard, which consisted of flat pieces of wood horizontally overlapping; it was bricked over in 1890. The roof was also replaced that same year. In 1956 a steel roof replaced the wooden roof.
A dining hall was added in the 1970s. It can be rented for special occasions and comes with a complete kitchen. MCFN maintains the church. Church officials hold services and other events.
Carolyn King, an active community historian, has applied for funds to revitalize the grounds around MCFN. The purpose of it is to let the grounds grow back to their natural state. The program is taking place in front of the Council House and also in the grove area, the arena for MCFN’s Traditional Homecoming Powwow.
The Administration Building was built in 1987-88 to house the programs and services offered through the First Nation’s Administration.
The Administration of the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation are overseen by departments, Chief and Council, and a Chief Operating Officer. The main administration building (agimaw gamig) houses the departments of Public Works, Finance, Housing, Culture and Events, Economic Development, and the office of the Chief Operating Officer and office space for elected Council to use.
The mission statement of the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation Administration is to “meet the needs of the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation by providing the best possible services and programs, administer the resources entrusted to it in the most effective and responsible manner, contribute to the future progress and strength of the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation by participating in the planning process through the identification of needs, providing analysis and recommendations, and by effectively implementing the approved plans.”
“In this manner, the Administration has a responsibility to ensure the survival of the Mississaugas of the [New] Credit as a unique First Nation. In all its work, the Administration is accountable to the Chief and Council who, in turn, are accountable to the people of the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation.”
The Indian Act has guidelines and procedures for carrying out elections. Elections are held every two years. All MCFN members who have reached the age of majority are eligible to vote and nominate MCFN members. MCFN members residing off-reserve have the opportunity to be involved in the process of nomination and election by mail.
The New Credit Public Library has a very diverse history within itself. The building was moved from Brantford where it served as an army barracks.
The library collection was stored and began in the Council House. It became a formal library when it moved into Rumpus Hall.
In its earlier life, the building served as a recreation facility, office space, and the New Credit Day Care before being converted into the New Credit Public Library.
The Library is moving from that location as of 2021, new location to be announced soon.
The Library will be open to the public during the evenings and weekends. The library is equipped with seven public access computers, a digital library including CD, VHS and DVD movies, a Native book collection, and an assortment of children’s books. Reservations can be made to have meetings and other special events.
The new 10,350 square foot Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation Community Centre is a state of the art community building which encompasses functional aspects with practicality. It reflects the rich cultural background of the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation. This facility includes a main hall, meeting rooms, offices and kitchen and was completed in January of 2013 with a construction budget of $2.5 million. This building is the showcase facility of the community and hosts various community and business events. It is a facility that the community can take pride in and will be proud of for years to come.
Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation (October 29, 2010) – The Honourable John Duncan, Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development and Federal Interlocutor for Métis and Non-Status Indians, together with Chief Bryan LaForme and community members, celebrated today the final settlement of the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation’s Brant Tract and Toronto Purchase specific claims.
Canada and the Mississaugas of the New Credit have taken a major step forward on a path of reconciliation and renewal today with the signing of a $145 million claim settlement. The financial settlement resolves an outstanding dispute tied to the history of Toronto, Canada’s largest city.
“The resolution of this claim will enable the Mississaugas of the New Credit to seek new economic development projects and other community development projects that will benefit not only their members but the surrounding communities as well,” said Minister Duncan. “This historic settlement helps to reconcile the past with the present and creates common ground for a shared future.”
“Our First Nation has a long history of seeking input and guidance from our members,” said Chief LaForme. “We conducted a series of meetings last spring and our members gave us clear direction on the settlement offer and the Trust Agreement. In our ratification referendum held on May 29th this year an overwhelming percentage of our members voted ‘yes’ to this settlement. The First Nation membership has charted our path and we will now move toward a brighter future for our people. A future filled with economic opportunity, growth, and prosperity.”
The Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation Community Trust was established as a result of a successful land claim settled between the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation and the Government of Canada. The Land Claim was for a 200 Acre parcel of land along the banks of the Credit River in Mississauga, Ontario. The original Credit River people were relocated to their current lands just outside of Hagersville, Ontario in 1854. The settlement funds of $12.7 million were paid by Canada and the Trust Agreement between the MCFN Chief and Council and an original seven Board of Trustees was brought into effect on April 10, 1997. The Trust Agreement had been ratified by the membership of the MCFN in a community vote held January 4, 1997.
The MCFN Community Trust is responsible for managing and carrying out the duties and powers provided within the Trust Agreement. The Trustees owe a fiduciary responsibility to MCFN members. Any service providers are expected to owe the same fiduciary duty to the Trustees.
The Community Trustees are primarily responsible for managing and administering the original $12.7 million that created the Community Trust. The Capital Funds (the original $12.7 million) are invested and annually adjusted for inflation and the Net Revenue (the Revenue from investing less inflation and expenses as calculated annually) is made available to the First Nation as represented by the Chief and Council for projects that are eligible as per section 11.5 of the Trust Agreement. The projects are applied for by the First Nation through a formal ‘Business Plan’ document and the Community Trustees review the benefit to the community via meeting deliberations and make their decisions accordingly.