Caldwell First Nation hosts Essex County municipal leaders for Reconciliation in Action conference

More than 50 leaders and staff from municipalities across Windsor-Essex came together Friday for the first ever Reconciliation in Action conference hosted by Caldwell First Nation.

More than 50 leaders and staff from municipalities across Windsor-Essex came together Friday for the first ever Reconciliation in Action conference hosted by Caldwell First Nation.

The event took place at Ojibway Nature Centre in Windsor and aimed to provide participants with opportunities to gain a deeper understanding of Caldwell First Nation’s experiences, with the overarching goal of translating reconciliation into tangible action by promoting consultation, collaboration, and accommodation of Caldwell First Nation by all municipalities in Windsor-Essex. 

Caldwell First Nation fought in the War of 1812, and in return were promised land. However in the 1920s, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police forced them from their traditional lands at Point Pelee by burning homes and destroying their goods and foods. 

Speaking on AM800's The Shift, Caldwell First Nation Chief Mary Duckworth says when a treaty came in 1790, they did not sign it because they would not surrender their land.

"It ended up that Caldwell First Nation did a land claim against Canada. Settled that claim in 2010. We got out reserve status in November 2020 and now are are starting to build for our people and create an economic base for Caldwell First Nation."

Caldwell First Nation recently purchased plots of land around the Leamington/Point Pelee area. 

Duckworth says they have 33 properties that are not reserve status, and 198 acres that are.

She says with upcoming projects like electric vehicle battery production and storage coming to the region, the opportunities are there.

"And Caldwell First Nation wants to be apart of what is happening, to participate in economic development, but more so participate in stewardship over the land to make sure that we're planning well as all the municipalities and ourselves come together, so that we can work together and ensure that we're successful."

More than 50 leaders and staff from municipalities across Windsor-Essex came together Friday for the first ever Reconciliation in Action conference hosted by Caldwell First Nation. Dec. 8, 2023. (Photo supplied)

More than 50 leaders and staff from municipalities across Windsor-Essex came together Friday for the first ever Reconciliation in Action conference hosted by Caldwell First Nation. Dec. 8, 2023. (Photo supplied)

Duckworth says their first economic project was the gas station and variety store located at 1032 Mersea Road 1, Leamington.

"Right now we're building 28 units of duplexes and fourplexes. Net-zero housing and our first house went up last week. So where the gas station is, the reserve lands, where the community will be is closer to at the corner of Seacliff, you'll see it when you go by, you can't miss it now."

Duckworth says the next steps for them are developing more homes, including building an administrative building that would house a cultural centre. 

She says they would like to bring back their sacred items from the University of Windsor and have them on display.