Diversity and inclusion

Roger's Valu-Mart takes a step towards reconciliation

April 11, 2024

Keith standing outside the store around Valu-Mart employees, during the smudging ceremony. 

In the charming town of Dowling, Ontario, stands a humble grocery store known as Roger's Valu-Mart®. This store is not just a place for locals to gather their daily essentials; it has become a symbol of respect, reconciliation, and unity. 

Recently, the store took a significant step towards acknowledging the Indigenous peoples who historically inhabited and cared for the land on which the store now stands. They proudly displayed the very first land acknowledgement plaque at a Loblaw store. 

To commemorate this important event, they invited Keith Chapman, a respected Indigenous Elder, to lead a special ceremony. The purpose of this ceremony was to unveil the plaque, which represents the store's commitment to recognizing the Indigenous community and their contributions. This plaque proudly displays the name of the Indigenous land on which the store was built, serving as a reminder of the past and a symbol of reparations between the store and the community. 

Store owner, Roger, carefully selected a prominent spot in the store where the plaque would be easily visible to both customers and employees. His intention was for everyone who entered the store to be reminded of the significance of acknowledging the Indigenous peoples and their rich history. 

As the ceremony commenced, Keith took the opportunity to highlight the progress made in recent years in recognizing the Indigenous community. However, he emphasized that there is still much work to be done. He encouraged everyone present to continue learning and discussing Indigenous history, fostering a deeper understanding and appreciation for their culture. 

In a beautiful and sacred tradition, Keith led everyone in a smudging ceremony. Smudging is a practice in the Indigenous community that involves burning sacred herbs, such as sage or sweetgrass, to cleanse oneself and create positive energy. Each person had the choice to participate, and Keith guided them through the process. Starting with their head to clear their thoughts, then their ears to listen attentively, their eyes to see with understanding, their mouth to speak the truth, their heart for purity, and finally their body to rid themselves of negativity. 

With the positive energy flowing, Keith approached the plaque and gently smudged it, infusing it with the essence of reconciliation and unity. Then, with great care, he placed the plaque on the wall for all to see. It was a powerful moment, symbolizing progress and a step in the right direction towards truth and reconciliation. 

"This plaque symbolizes that we can and want to heal together by showing respect for our ancestors and the land they cared for. The Indigenous community deserves the reconciliation and respect we often discuss, and a small gesture like our plaque is a great start," says Roger. 

Roger’s store didn’t stop there. Roger and Keith continue to communicate and collaborate on various projects. Together, they organized a beautiful garden at the Correctional Centre in Sudbury, bringing positive energy to the location and fostering a sense of unity. 

This commitment to building a relationship with the Indigenous community is not unique to Roger's Valu-Mart. Many Loblaw stores across Canada are taking similar steps. Throughout 2024, the enterprise will collaborate with our owners and operators in getting their land acknowledgement plaques.  

“The act of putting up a plaque may seem small, but its impact is significant. It serves as a reminder of the importance of recognizing and honouring the Indigenous peoples who have shaped the land we call home. It is a step towards unity, understanding, and a brighter future for all,” says Roger.