– article courtesy of Parks Canada –
The new gathering place, Gima-Kwe Nong, includes a classroom, compost washroom, cooking shelter, and an area dedicated to ceremonial use.
On November 1, 2019, the Saugeen Ojibway Nation (SON) hosted a welcoming and naming ceremony to open the new gathering place at Emmett Lake in the Bruce Peninsula National Park (hereafter referred to as Bruce Peninsula). Bruce Peninsula is within SON Territory and the area of the park that leads to Emmett Lake is directly adjacent to the SON Hunting Grounds.
Saugeen Ojibway Nation shares their culture
The ceremony was led by SON Elder Vernon Roote and included members from SON Communities and Parks Canada staff. It opened with the lighting of a sacred fire, prayers in Anishnaabemowin and included traditional hand drumming and song. The ceremony honoured the ancestors and opened and welcomed the site. There was also a traditional naming ceremony followed by a feeding of the fire and a feast. The site has been given the Anishnaabe name Gima-Kwe Nong which translates to “Queen Woman Place.” This name honours the endangered Queensnake, with Emmett Lake being one of the few known areas where the Queensnake is found.
Federal Infrastructure Investments – more than just an opportunity to build new buildings
It was important to both Parks Canada and SON that any planning and decision making for this site be carried out together and that SON Communities be involved throughout the process. A concept plan was developed that would see an old, demolished ranger camp completely renovated into an accessible outdoor cultural learning centre with a three-season lodge, primitive camping, outdoor cooking and cook stove provisions, and a place for ceremony. Gima-Kwe Nong will be available for SON to use to connect with the land, and to share and teach their history and culture to members of SON Communities as well as visitors to Bruce Peninsula.
After four years of collaborative planning, designing, and building the site has been completed! The entire project, from the decommissioning of the previous infrastructure to the construction of the new facilities, was done entirely by Parks Canada team members and members of the SON Communities.
The project provided an opportunity for Parks Canada and SON to work together and create something that will be mutually beneficial for years to come. Opportunities for apprenticing and repurposing/recycling existing materials were plentiful.
This project is a testament to the great things that we can accomplish by working together with our First Nations and Indigenous partners. The facility is an incredible legacy where people will come together to learn and share for years to come. We are so proud to be a part of the team that accomplished this work.
For more information, contact:
Janna Chegahno, Indigenous Liaison, Bruce Peninsula National Park