The city is looking at updating its coat of arms to make it more culturally appropriate.
During Monday’s council committee meeting, Coun. Jay Fallis shared concerns about the depiction of the Indigenous paddler in the coat of arms.
The colour of the paddler is red, and Fallis said he heard from an Indigenous person who told him about the “problem with the visual imagery of our coat of arms.”
“I hadn't really noticed it. It’s one of those things that you don’t tend to notice,” Fallis said.
He researched it and spoke with Indigenous people in the area. He said the placement of the paddler and the image itself “kind of seemed to be of honour,” as it is situated near the centre of the coat of arms.
“It’s not meant to be insulting, but a place of respect,” he said.
Fallis wants staff to consult with the Canadian Heraldic Authority and the original designer of the coat of arms and then report back on suggested changes “and their implications.” Essentially, he said, he wants to see a “more accurate, respectful image.”
“Our coat of arms has changed in the past,” he said. “It’s not unheard of that we change our coat of arms to upgrade it or make it more up to date or to make it sensitive to the times.”
Coun. Ted Emond is aware of that. He was mayor when the coat of arms was updated about 30 years ago. At the time, the redesigned image was seen as “more accurate and respectful of our Indigenous friends and colleagues.”
That isn’t the case now, with the colour of the paddler.
“We should be very cautious about appropriateness and properness … (It) may not necessarily be the most appropriate way of representing what has happened in the past,” Emond said, adding he supported the coat of arms being updated again.
Council committee approved the motion, which called for staff to look into and report back on “the feasibility and costs of updating the City of Orillia coat of arms to provide an accurate and respectful representation of the Indigenous paddler.”