Negotiationing with the government goes very slowly. In 1995 the First Nations people of Kettle Point and Stony Point took back their own land from the government. For years and years they had been petitioning the government to give them the land back that they had promised to give back at the end of World War Two. They had all the papers and proof: the government admitted their wrong-doing. A few months ago, twenty-one years later, their land was officially handed back to them along with a settlement for lost time and opportunity.
The government had been using the land as a Provincial Park on the beach; in-land remained an army base, the reason they confiscated the land at the beginning of WW2. There was no need for an army base to keep going. Ipperwash Park was cash cow; a beautiful sandy, shallow beach on Lake Huron.
No one but band members have been able to use the beach since they took it back 21 years ago. Slowly it has been turning back to a natural beach….. untrammeled by hoards of beach goers. I had the opportunity to go there yesterday as my nephew and his children are band members. It’s so beautiful! Natural vegetation, large logs of driftwood, wooded sand dunes behind.
There was only one other family when we arrived. They left and we had the whole beach to ourselves for a while, then one other family in two cars came. It was extremly hot and ‘my’ beach was so crowded the parking was spilling out onto the roads. Here, just around the bend, it was wilderness.
The lake is sandy and shallow with sand bars making it perfect for kids. On a walk looking for shells and beach glass we spotted a sand bar about 30 feet out from the shore. My grand niece could walk out easily and I carried my grand nephew. We walked in ankle deep clear water through rippling sand trying to reach the end. My grandnephew kept trying to call back , “Look grandma, we are SO FAR!” We finally got too far for their comfort and turned back not ever reaching the end of the sand bar.
I thought about how lucky I was to see this beach in it’s natural state. In the coming years the band will make it public again with a Cultural Heritage Centre. Hopefully the camping and beach will be open to the public again giving them the income the goverment has been stealing away from them all these years. But slowly the beach will lose its natural beauty.
Slowly the band will bring the area to prosperity; a new marina on Kettle Point (where there is no beach), a convention centre at the recently aquired golf course, and the cultural heritage centre at Stony Point and no casino! That was a much deserved settlement that will bring them jobs, money and respect…… long overdue!
I’m looking forward to seeing the changes around here but I’ll always cherish the memories of being on the beach in it’s natural state.
Yesterday I kept thinking, “How lucky am I?”
“The day misspent, the love misplaced, has inside it the seed of redemption. Nothing is exempt from resurrection.” —Kay Ryan