The Chippewas of Kettle and Stony Point First Nation got a little bit bigger on Tuesday, with new land that was once part of Ipperwash Provincial Park, added to the reserve.
An agreement signed Aug. 25 will add just over 113 acres of land that had been transferred from Ontario to the federal government in July, to fulfil a commitment made following the release of the Ipperwash inquiry Report in 2007.
Chief Jason Henry of the Chippewas of Kettle and Stony Point First Nation said in a statement that while the process isn't perfect, it gives hope for the future.
"The return of the former Provincial Park lands is an important legal indicator for our Ancestors and our future generations that we’re home again and the land is legally ours...It is also important that we honour the memory of Dudley George today, who made the supreme sacrifice in respect of the Ancestors and all of those who have dedicated their lives to the return of our lands."
It was 26 years ago, on Sept. 6, 1995, that Dudley George was killed as Indigenous protesters sought to reclaim the park and adjacent former Camp Ipperwash.
Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations Carolyn Bennett added that the return of the land is an important step in righting past wrongs.
"Dudley George died in 1995 trying to reclaim these Lands and today, the Government of Canada is honoured to set apart these lands for the use and benefit of the First Nation. Our work together is another step in advancing reconciliation and improving the treaty relationship with First Nations. I wish Chief Henry and Chippewas of Kettle & Stony Point First Nation great success in their continued development."
The return of the former reserve lands are expected to enable the First Nation to meet the current and future needs of the community and prepare them for traditional uses.