Ojibway Elder Beth Elson Leads in Defending Springwater Provincial Park

Beth and Krystyna both work with Les Steward and local citizens to protect Springwater Provincial Park. Photo by Danny Beaton May 2013

Ontario has a very large number of tribes, natives, indigenous populations that have survived all forms of deceit so far from non native policies, agendas and activities. Yet the way things are going non natives might not survive from the deceit of their own agendas. With the abundance of farmland which produces a rich supply of fresh food for Ontario why sell this fast green belt and parklands, to hungry developers for huge profits.

Seeing how Ontario is full of rich farmland so is the province with adequate parklands, watersheds, marshland which too is under extreme threat by developers. Not only are natural spaces and natural environment used by the farmers and the public but the indigenous people of Ontario are maintaining their way of life and culture with a vigorous restoration and resurgence through education ,sharing ,healing and ceremony. Why is there such a threat to natural environment/Mother Earth and those who try to live with green space and try to protect other life, animals, birds, fish, and insects which are our relations? They say the Bumble Bee is threatened and if we loss them it could bring about a human disaster why is this so hard to believe?

There is an incredible ever growing interest and need by the public which enjoy and visit native POW wows and cultural events in Ontario and through out Canada today! In fact there is a link with POW wows, green spaces native culture and parklands. Nothing is more important today then healing, health and peace in tranquil environment especially for native and non native youth who many are suffering from stress.

Ontario and Canada could be in a double crisis if rich parklands farmlands water ways which surround cities and reservations are exploited or mismanaged. The Springwater Provincial Park has been cut funding from parklands Ontario. Springwater is between Barrie Ontario and the Great Georgian Bay home to the Great Ojibwa Nation, Mohawks, Wendat, Huron, Métis and many other indigenous people not to mention non natives and everyone’s children. The way Ontario is headed if Parklands like Springwater are closed down our sanctuaries will be neglected or possibly sold to build 500 thousand dollar condos similar to the way Beaver Pond Forest was attacked and destroyed only 2 years ago in Kanata near Ottawa.

Beaver Pond Forest was defended by native elders the late Grandfather William Commanda, Bob Lovelace, Daniel Bernard, myself and native and non native citizens with environmentalists even some scientists helped out and many more but with closed eyes from all levels of government. Beaver Pond Forest was mainly all clear cut. Not only was Beaver Pond Forest cut down but it was an ancient old growth forest was cut down! Hundreds of non natives rallied with natives in a struggle which we close our eyes in shame at all levels of government in Ottawa for not listening to the people and standing up while there was still hope for the trees and life species.

With this lesson and there are many more we as Ontarians must never allow such atrocities to ever happen again. Springwater Provincial Park with fresh aquifers shooting out from Mother Earths belly must remain a funded Provincial Park and heritage place now for generations to come.

Deer, wolf, coyote porcupine fox fisher, rabbit live in Springwater not to mention frogs, snakes, turtles, salamanders and other relatives. Springwater is over 100 year old provincial park even the town it is in is named Springwater. The thick Pine Forest, Cedar Trees and Spruce cover the park and nurture all the life that sustains itself. Surface Spring flows out freely naturally so one can bend into it and drink clean pure fresh water from Mother Earth’s body. Georgian Bay would never be the same if it ever disappeared like Beaver Pond Forest or the riches developer. It is a heritage place a home to life species which are spectacular to see living and moving in good health the way we all should be. It seems our country can be bought and sold to the highest bidder daily even it can be sold to China but our ancestors would never have let this happen if they really knew where we were headed! We as human beings need to really take time to look at all the facts , information, statistics and see how much life has disappeared and is suffering road kills are every where when we head up north and when you see a dead adult many times their youth will wonder back to see and be killed too. Our parks, farmland, water must be protected as with our animals, birds, fish and honey bees.

The Late Grandfather William Commanda Speaks Out For Life

In many respects, it is too late because many of our children and people have been educated and raised in new ways and now believe in ownership of land. Many have forgotten their sacred relationship with Mother. You cannot own Mother, we belong to her. So we must stop the endless cutting of trees that produce oxygen and life breath. Trees hold the waters and prevent flooding and mudslides. Trees create; protect gardens of biodiversity and medicine plants. The forests of the world are habitats of the fourleggeds and winged creatures. The rivers are the veins of Mother Earth, and everywhere dams impede her movement of water life and accumulate debris and poison are not washed out to seas for cleaning. Our cancers are a reflection of the poisons and contaminations in our Mother Earths body. We must respect the four elements and creatures of the natural world. We must reignite a Sacred Relationship with Mother Earth if we are to survive. Take prayer and ceremony and tobacco to her and to particularly sacred energy places. We need to influence the mainstream world with the ideology of Indigenous environmental Ethics/values.

Indigenous Peoples who have retained the sacred connection with the lands of their birth and ancestors have a special role to play in the healing of Mother Earth and all her children and in decrying commodification of every aspect of her being. This is our biggest job, and we must prepare ourselves for it by going back to the land for guidance. Mother Earth is an endlessly creative spiritual being. Decades ago, Indigenous people prophesied that she would start her own process of cleaning and over recent years we have begun to see this in the devastating hurricanes, earthquakes ,droughts ,floods ,fires ,and mudslides across the globe. She is also generating new life forms and land so she will continue to be a powerful creative force. But nothing is free on Mother Earth any more people own everything, you can no longer travel safely and you can no longer pick wild berries or call other food life, so Mother Earth cannot provide for use in her own way the way. And we have abused our sacred relationship with her and so we have to pay for that. We have to reconnect with the 4 elements and learn to work with them as our ancestors did in order to create hope for our children.

Beth Elson Speaks out

We are strong minded women who are here to establish a place to come together to make our nations stronger by providing spiritual guidance and traditional role modeling to benefit all nations. The occupation is going great and the Ministry needs to open the gates and allow the disabled and our elders access to this place as well. We have been requesting the gates be opened for ceremonies and they refuse to open them. We are building a lodge later this week and putting a call out for fire keepers and campers.

We call the place-Springwater Park-Camp Nibi. We have taken over the lands of Springwater Provincial Park which was previously cared for by the Ministry of Natural Resources. It was a financial burden to the Provincial Government which no longer could afford to assume the responsibility for the park. Our objectives are to maintain the park and create a business for the First Nations and employment for our people. The First Nations has many unique and diverse programs that will be of benefit to the surrounding communities. Our unique connection to the land leads the way to inventive programs to inform and establish connection to the wildlife, forest, lands, water, and air. Our traditions and culture are to be shared and our knowledge is to be passed on so people can relate to Mother Earth and gain connection and respect. Our education and the education of the communities surrounding our territories will be enhanced by the unique relationship we have to discover in one another.