TINY TOWNSHIP: A reclamation of Awenda Provincial Park is now entering its 19th month. Organizers have formed a grassroots connection with neighboring Springwater Provincial Park which has also been occupied by members of Beausoleil First Nation.
“We began as a result of the illegal surrenders of our Inherent Rights and Traditional Territories along with the policies and laws enforced upon our people where the Chippewa Tri Council and Canada are in breach of the 1764 Niagara Covenant Chain Belt” explains Kai Kai Kons, a spokesperson for the camp.
The 1764 Niagara Covenant Chain Belt is an agreement between 24 Indigenous Nations and the Crown that allows the Crown to be present within Indigenous territories founded on Peace, Non-Interference and Co-existence. First Nations leaders and the Crown gathered to strengthen this Relationship in January 2012.
The Chippewa Tri-Council (CTC) of Beausoleil, Rama and Georgina Island First Nations accepted a $308 Million Land Claim Settlement for the Coldwater Narrows Reserve last year. The acceptance of this settlement is what helped ignite the actions of the Reclamation’s organizers from Beausoleil.
The CTC are also signatories of the 1923 Williams Treaty where they surrendered 13 million acres and allegedly extinguished their hunting, fishing and harvesting rights within their traditional territory. “The lands we are reclaiming in both parks are within the 1785 Collins Treaty area which is an area that includes land within the Williams Treaty and Coldwater Narrows Claim. The CTC accepted a settlement of $500,000 in 1998, our people were not informed or consulted and provided no consent to accept this settlement” explains Kai Kai Kons
Canada’s Aboriginal Affairs website claims the 1785 Collins Treaty was an agreement where the Chippewas of Lake Huron allowed the Crown to put a military road through their territory. Lands were to be returned after the war efforts but they were not.
“Our title to the lands is essential to our sovereignty and protecting the environment. The Band Councils are extinguishing our rights and there is no avenue other then what we are doing to assert ourselves according to our laws. We are organizing at these camps to break free of the Band Council system. We need a re-emergence of our own Anishinabek Governance and Laws” explains Richard Peters, another of the Camps spokespersons.
A statement from the Beausoleil Band says the actions of the camp organizers are not representative of the Band and that they are acting on their own.
The Camp, which is located in Awenda Provincial Park, is also on one of five traditional embassies known as Council Rock. This has been interwoven in the intertribal treaty between the Anishinabek and Haudenosaunee according to the two men.
“Our Camp is called the Oshkimaadiziig Unity Camp which refers to our Anishinabek prophecies. We have been told a New People will emerge to pick up the many gifts of the past to ensure the survival of humanity” explains Kai Kai Kons. These camps are a growing initiative of the organizers collaborative called ACTION: Anishinabek Confederacy To Invoke Our Nationhood.
The men are also citing the Supreme Court of Canada’s, R. vs. Sundown and Ontario court of Justice case, R. vs. Me shake. Both cases acknowledge traditional activities within Provincial Parks. The Ministry of Natural Resources have been attempting to create a dialogue with the goal of evicting the camps. Authorities are closely monitoring the situation.