Nearly 100 Members of the Saugeen Ojibway Nation, from both Saugeen and Nawash, came together last night in Wiarton, ON to meet with Parks Canada management from the Bruce Peninsula National Park and Fathom Five National Marine Park. This was the second in a series of information sessions being held by the Environment Office and Parks Canada. The purpose of the meeting was to bring back answers to questions that were raised at the previous meeting and to inform members of the plan moving forward.
Doran Ritchie, resources manager with the Environment Office, posed a number of questions to the Parks Canada team that were raised by members during the last meeting. The questions covered a variety of topics including ongoing projects like the development of management plans for Bruce Peninsula National Park and Fathom Five National Marine Park and how that interacts with our rights, the Emmett Lake project, the newly acquired Driftwood Cove property, as well as co-management of the parks, SON employment opportunities at the park, and the protection of sacred sites such as burials, and artifacts currently in the possession of Parks Canada.
The Parks management team expressed interest in repatriating artifacts that it holds, including artifacts currently at the Parks and those that have been moved off site. In addition, Parks Canada is working with SON and the Environment Office when new artifacts or burials are found to establish a best practice for protecting those sites. While Parks Canada seemed reluctant to the idea of completely shutting off public access to areas near these sacred sites, they were in favour of finding ways to ensure their protection, including perhaps increased staffing near the sites to ensure they are not disturbed, a role that could be filled by SON members.
With regard to SON employment at the Park, there were some issues raised about barriers to employment for SON members including the application process and transportation to the park for work. Parks Canada, in an attempt to remove barriers to employment at the parks for SON members, is making an easier to navigate application process, considering transportation solutions, and even potentially employee accommodations at the Parks.
Parks Canada seemed eager to continue working with SON on ongoing and future projects while involving members in contributions to co-management of the parks. As part of this effort, the Environment Office and Parks Canada are arranging tours of the parks, free of charge to SON
members, so that they can see these areas first hand. Currently there are two tours: one tour is of the Parks’ newly acquired 3,200 acre parcel of land known as Driftwood Cove, the second is a boat tour of the Fathom Five National Marine Park. If you are interested in participating in these tours and didn’t have a chance to sign up at the meeting, please contact April Root-Thompson at the Environment Office – (519) 534-5507 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Doran Ritchie, the Environment Office, and Parks Canada would like to extend a big thank you to the almost 100 members that were able to attend the meeting last night in Wiarton, including representatives from SON leadership, Chief Lester Anoquot and Councillors Conrad Ritchie, Mark Mandawoub, Letitia Root-Thompson of Saugeen, and Councillors Carlene Keeshig, Joss Ann Taylor, Martha Pedoniquotte, and Sidney Nadjiwon of Nawash. There was an abundance of great food prepared by Rhonda Pedoniquotte that was shared shared by all, as well as great productive conversation.
If you have any questions about last night’s meeting, or if you have any questions about ongoing projects with Parks Canada, please feel free to reach out to your Environment Office and we will get you the information you need.