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30 September 2021

“This Place Is Home”: Words from Point Pelee And The Caldwell First Nation

On a beautiful day in late June, the Landsby team boarded canoes on the marshes of Port Pelee to listen to Darryl van Oirschot, one of the knowledge keepers for Caldwell First Nation share stories of the land and its ancestry. Here, we share some of van Oirschot’s most poignant thoughts and aspirations.

In your own words, could you share the significance of Point Pelee and Pelee island.

Point Pelee and Pelee Island are the Heart of Caldwell First Nation’s traditional, unceded territory. It is here that we have lived in balance with and thrived from the bounty of Mother Earth since time immemorial.

What does this land mean to the Caldwell First Nation community?

The significance of this area cannot be understated. Point Pelee and Pelee Island have some of the most biodiverse habitats in all of Ontario. Our ancestors found a place where food is as abundant on the water as it is on the land. This place is home. This is where we have our roots, and here, the drum sounds our heartbeat still.

“The ground on which we stand is sacred ground. It is the blood of our ancestors.”

– Chief Plenty Coups

On our canoe ride, you shared many beautiful stories with us, including the story of Turtle Island. What place does storytelling hold in Indigenous culture?

At this time we are developing experiences that promote the revitalization of Indigenous Language and Culture. One of the most important part of our histories is oral tradition and story-telling. This is how things were handed down from generation to generation. This is how we learned Creator’s laws. These stories had ceremony attached to them, as well as dance, drumming, community and always, there was a lesson to be learned. In this day and age, storytelling, as it was to our Ancestors, is something I would like to see rejuvenated. In many ways, technology has weakened our connection to the land and to each other.

 

Honouring the land, and only taking what you need from it is the Indigenous way. What is your hope for this land, and how do you see it evolving now that it is back in the hands of its original people?

My hope for the future is that we can go back to one of the oldest traditions of living in balance with nature. Experiential tourism must be done in a sustainable way that promotes the protection of Mother Earth and all of her bounty so that everything that we experience today will be here for the next Seven Generations to enjoy, experience and thrive from.

We are also in the early stages of planning how our home will look, now that Caldwell First Nation has reserve status. CFN is committed to net-zero and carbon-neutral development, which will make CFN the first “green reserve”. As stewards of the land, air, water and all creatures that dwell within, we owe it to the next Seven Generations.

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