Background Information: A “Council” at the Chapel Royal

On June 12, 2019, an historic gathering of The Queen’s representatives in Canada along with the Territorial Commissioners and National Chief Perry Bellegarde of the Assembly of First Nations will take place at the recently designated Chapel Royal of Massey College in Toronto. The Governor General of Canada, Lieutenant Governors and Territorial Commissioners are meeting for their annual conference, and will begin by paying tribute to the unique and enduring relationship between the Crown and First Nations people in a ceremony.

The ceremony at Massey College (also called a “Council”), similar to those that have taken place between Indigenous leaders and representatives of the Crown for centuries, honours the historic nature of this meeting and will begin with the lighting of a sacred fire at sunrise. These “Councils” put forward a vision of a mutually respectful relationship between the First Peoples and settlers in Canada.

In tribute to this important act of reconciliation, in this unique location, the Ontario Heritage Trust will unveil a commemorative marker which will be mounted at the Chapel.

Event Overview:

Time Action Explanation
5:30 Lighting of the sacred fire


7:30 Opening song by Elder Gary Sault of the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation


7:40 Opening remarks by Dr. Elizabeth Smyth, Vice-Chair, Governing Board, Massey College


7:45 Welcoming remarks by Chief R. Stacey Laforme, Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation On behalf of the host First Nation, Chief Laforme will welcome the visitors to the territory
7:55 Remarks by the Hon. Elizabeth Dowdeswell, Lieutenant Governor of Ontario Her Honour, as host of the viceregal conference, will respond on behalf of her colleagues
8:00 Tobacco offerings by The Queen’s representatives in Canada and Territorial Commissioners The Governor General, Lieutenant Governors and Territorial Commissioners will present tobacco to Elder Gary Sault
8:10 Viceregals and First Nations leaders join in a circle dance around the sacred fire


8:20 Unveiling of Commemorative Plaque by the Ontario Heritage Trust A Blue Plaque in English, French and Anishinaabemowin (Ojibwe) will be unveiled marking this event

Chapel Royal at Massey College

In 2014, Massey College petitioned Buckingham Palace to rededicate St. Catherine’s Chapel as a Chapel Royal in hopes that the Royal Proclamation of 1763 and the Treaty of Niagara of 1764 be highlighted to acknowledge the complex and often painful history between the Crown and Indigenous nations, as well as the need for reconciliation going forward. The petition was approved by The Queen and announced in the sesquicentennial year of 2017.

In Anishinaabek, The Chapel Royal at Massey College is called Gi-Chi-Twaa Gimaa Kwe Mississauga Anishinaabek AName Amik (The Queen’s Anishinaabek Sacred Place), a name created by James Shawana, Anishinaabek language teacher at Lloyd S. King Elementary School in Hagersville, Ontario.

Chapels Royal in Canada

Chapels Royal are religious establishments which have been granted a rare honorific distinction by the Monarch in recognition of their unique role or place.

Massey’s Chapel Royal is the third such Chapel in Canada with the others being in Brantford and Desoronto, Ontario.  It holds the distinction of being the first interfaith and interdenominational Chapel Royal and the only one with its own title in an Indigenous language.

These institutions stand as symbols of the kinship and longstanding relationship between the Canadian Crown and Indigenous People.

Chapel Royal Tobacco bundles

The act of gift-giving by The Queen’s representatives is a longstanding protocol in the relationship between the Crown and Indigenous peoples. Early meetings between Indigenous leaders and colonial representatives (sometimes called “Councils”) traditionally included an exchange of medallions and other gifts such as tobacco as gestures of mutual respect.

Tobacco bundles are small amounts of loose tobacco wrapped in squares of cotton which are tied at the top. Presenting tobacco bundles to elders, chiefs, teachers and other Indigenous community members is a time-honored protocol observed at the Chapel Royal. Massey’s chapel grows its own tobacco to be used for these important ceremonies.

Tobacco presented by the Governor General, Lieutenant Governors, and Territorial Commissioners is wrapped in a square of red cotton (red being the colour reserved for honoured guests) and tied with a purple ribbon (purple symbolizes the Chapel’s relationship with the Crown). Each tobacco bundle will be emblazoned with a hand painted Coat of Arms of the viceregal representative presenting it.

Ontario Heritage Trust Plaque

In recognition of the historic nature of the meeting between all of The Queen’s Canadian representatives and senior Indigenous leaders at the Chapel Royal, Massey College applied for and was awarded a historical plaque from the Ontario Heritage Trust to mark the occasion.

The wording appears in three languages: English, French and Anishinaabemowin (Ojibwe). The United Nations declared 2019 The Year of Indigenous Languages.

Following its unveiling the plaque will be permanently installed in the Chapel Royal.

The Annual Conference of the Governor General, Lieutenant Governors and Territorial Commissioners

Since the 1970’s Canadian representatives of The Queen – the Governor General and Lieutenant Governors – along with the Territorial Commissioners, have met annually to compare and develop best practices in matters regarding the constitution, as well as those related to community engagement, protocol and ceremony. These conferences are vital opportunities for capacity building and development amongst the viceregal representatives.

Plaque text:

A Council at the Chapel Royal

Honouring the kinship kindled by the treaty relationships between First Peoples and the Crown, Indigenous leaders gathered here on June 11, 2019, with the Governor General, Lieutenant Governors, and Territorial Commissioners of Canada to hear an address by the National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations. A Sacred Fire burned to mark this unprecedented council.

Gii wii maandooshkaawad Ogima  Kwe Anamhewin Gamig.

Nimauwijiidimin si daashin damang   Aagowidewin omaujii Anishinaabe bemaadizhwin owedi daa Ki nang.

Ogimag dash maujidiwag, June 11, 2019. Ishkode dazhagide wi onjii izhichigewin.

Un conseil à la chapelle royale

En l’honneur de l’affiliation etablie par les rapports fondes sur des traits entre les Premiers Peuples et la Couronne, des
leaders autochtone se sont rassembles ici le 11 juin 2019, en compagnie de la Gouverneure generale, des lieutenants-gouveneurs et des commissaires Territoriaux du Canada pour entendre un discours du Chef national de L’Assemblee des Premieres Nations. Un feu sacre a ete  allume pour marquer ce conseil san precedent.