I live in a small beach community in a strip of land between two First Nation’s Reserves; Kettle Point and Stony Point. This area was once given to the natives by ‘the crown’.
(Kettle Point is the pink area, Stony Point is the green and I’m near that black smudge in between.)
Ipperwash Beach was just too popular to let the natives keep it so about 100 years ago it was sliced off for white tourists. The natives could come and sell trinkets and such but were expected to stay in their place.
The original reserve was divided into two small reserves with a strip of ‘publicly’ owned land only a few kilometers wide. Stony Point became a home to many displaced families as reserves around southern Ontario became smaller and smaller. People were forced off their land, many finding refuge with families on other reserves. Those without families or were too old or infirm, could settle in Stony Point.
At the beginning of the Second World War, our government took Stony Point reserve over for a military camp. The natives were given some money and told they would all have to move onto Kettle Point. Since many of them were already displaced from other reserves, they had nowhere to go; no families in Kettle Point to move in with.
The government did not give the land back after the war. The beach became Ipperwash Provincial Park. The rest of the land became Camp Ipperwash; a military training camp. In the 1960’s and ’70s the natives started to make a case to get their land back. It was in the land claims courts for years and years, being put off again and again. Finally, in frustration, a group of natives took over Ipperwash Provincial Park. Riot police were sent in, there was a stand-off for months.
Tensions built until it finally erupted in violence. Dudley George, a likeable young man, was shot and killed. This brought everything out in the open; the government had no public support. The truth came out in an official Inquiry and years later a public apology was made to the Chippewas of Kettle and Stony Point and to the George family.
This is past history but it’s still fresh around here. There is still an underlying tension between the native and white population. Of course, there are racists on both sides, they’re everywhere in every race. But there’s still a division here; a sense of ‘us’ and ‘them’. Whites are reluctant to go onto the reserve. I was taking a friend to see Kettle Point (it’s a point on Lake Huron with kettle rocks) and she asked if we were allowed to be there.
At the Powwow there are very few local non-band members. A perfect time for the whole community to come together but neither side makes any effort to do so.
Stony Point is anarchy. The natives have it back but there is no infrastructure whatsoever. There is a gated entrance to turn away any non-band member. Even many of the Kettle Point residents don’t want to go there.
Walking on Ipperwash Beach north of Army Camp road is not allowed. It’s off limits to anyone but band members.
In between it all lays the community I live in; cottagers, campers and those who decided to ‘winterize’ and stick it out all year. We have many trailer parks with year-round residents. We are a community of strangers.
What I like best about it here is that there is no “keeping up with the Jones’ “. People here would raise up their beer, say “F*#k the Joneses!” and drive away on their golf cart; the most coveted of possessions. The nicest homes are on the reserve; it’s not the same as up north where there is no work. Here we have whites who don’t want to live in a white-washed world and don’t have to!
Here it’s strangers like me who found a place to not fit in, comfortably.