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  • Writer's pictureESSEX FREE PRESS

Caldwell First Nation working to comanage Ojibway Park

by Sylene Argent

Representatives of Caldwell First Nation announced last Wednesday they were working with Parks Canada towards developing a co-management agreement to oversee and monitor Ojibway Park.

Caldwell First Nation Chief Mary Duckworth explained this was the first sit-down meeting, where representatives from Caldwell wanted to find out timelines, where Parks Canada was in the process, and have consultation with the community regarding comanaging Ojibway Park.

“It was a really good meeting,” she said, noting this is not the first co-management model Parks Canada has seen.

Caldwell First Nation wants to comanage Ojibway Park, “because it is our traditional territory,” Duckworth said. “This area – and I will say it again – has a lot of history. We would like to preserve some of that and keep it green,” she said.

Photo by Tobi Olawale. Chief Mary Duckworth receives sacred tobacco from Liz Akiwenzie, Elder and Cultural Healer during a ceremony to honour ancestors

Looking after species at risk, such as the Massasauga Rattler, and plant life will be part of comanaging Ojibway Park. In addition, Duckworth said there is also a desire to build a First Nation’s centre, “where we can come together as a community – all races – and learn about each other and share our knowledge.”

In addition, on Wednesday a ceremony was hosted to honour the ancestors and traditional territory of the Caldwell First Nation at Ojibway Park. Duckworth said the experience was spiritually connecting.

In 2015, Duckworth explained Windsor West MP Brian Masse’s office contacted Caldwell First Nation, requesting the Chief and Council look at the land he believed was being threatened with industrial use.

Caldwell First Nation, she added, believes the park needs to be protected. From there, a relationship was built.

Duckworth said Caldwell First Nation has been involved in helping Masse with his Private Member’s Bill, Bill, C-248, that would act to amend the Canada National Parks Act to establish Ojibway National Urban Park of Canada.

Consideration from the Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development passed on November 17, allowing the proposed Bill to return to the House of Commons for its third reading in the near future.

Duckworth said, as Chief, she is looking to see where the Federal Government will land on the matter, and who its partner will be in comanaging the park that is home to many species of birds, animals, and greenery.

“That is really why we are here, not to play politics or to pick, but to say, ‘we are going to do ceremony here and set the tone and protect the land,’ and that is the messaging we wanted to give,” Duckworth said regarding Masse’s Private Member’s Bill.

Regardless if C-248 passed, Caldwell will move forward in comanaging Ojibway Park, Duckworth said.

In addition, Caldwell First Nation has been busy with its Leamington development on nearly 200-acres, which includes the construction of a new urban reserve. It is also working to complete a marina and boardwalk and construction of a gas bar and variety store. It is also involved with the establishment of the Southwestern Ontario Infrastructure and Economic Opportunities Table to spearhead investment in clean energy projects to power Southwestern Ontario, information from Caldwell First Nation notes.


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