A dignified march and moving round dance in support of Springwater Park

A unified celebration of the park’s history, present and future.

Kim Butterfly Newby


Kim “Butterfly” Newby addresses every one in attendance at the round dance celebration at Springwater Park, Sunday afternoon. ZACH MACPHERSON/BARRIE EXAMINER/QMI AGENCY

An eloquent first-hand account by in a  Letter to the Editor to the  Barrie Examiner, Park sparks a deep connection:

The crisp winter air was still. The day was sunny and bright; the sky blue. I waited shivering in the bone-chilling cold near the entrance to Springwater Provincial Park, hoping to catch the first glimpse of the First Nations peoples and Springwater Park Citizens’ Coalition (SPCC) members, scheduled to arrive at the park entrance, at 2 p.m.

A march to Springwater Park, including a round dance, had been planned in support of keeping the park operational. What a perfect winter day to celebrate this park and be present to support its continued existence!

Slowly, the sound of drums and chanting voices rose in the distance, the sound steadily building as their approach grew near.

The voices and drums of the First Nations people rose up through the majestic pine trees bordering the park entrance. They were joined by members of the SPCC and others, who have grave concerns about the imminent closing of the park, by the Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR). Brightly-coloured flags fluttered proudly above the heads of the marchers: Canadian, First Nations and Ontario.

The solemn and dignified march proceeded rhythmically down the sloping road leading into the park and veered left towards the Vespra Boys Cenotaph. It continued over the bridge and onwards to the main pavilion park, where the group stopped to gather.

A First Nations member garbed in magnificent jingle regalia, holding fanned-eagle feathers and beaded purse, stepped forward to speak. She spoke beautifully of the intimate connection between the First Nations peoples and the land; the need for respect for the land and water, which gives life to all; the importance of caring for and respecting the animals which populate Springwater’s animal sanctuary, which has become their home; our need to respect the land, which sustains us.

The First Nations people have a deep connection to the land on which Springwater is located; it is also encompassed within a number of First Nations treaties. Consultation regarding the imminent closure of this park has not taken place with their peoples. Indeed public consultations of any kind, have simply not been held.

Another second First Nations member also spoke passionately and authoritatively about the importance of protecting our environment, Springwater Park and expressed great concern regarding the declining water levels of the Great Lakes.

The attendees were then asked to join in a round dance to bring increased awareness to the plight of Springwater, express concern for the environment, and to express solidarity amongst all peoples, in caring for the same. The drumming and chanting began.

It is impossible to express the spiritual power of this ancient, rhythmic and mesmerizing chant; the call for the coming together of peoples for a common purpose. It was easy to imagine this very drumming and singing taking place centuries ago, being performed by the ancestors of the First Nations people present.

Today, their descendants’ voices and drumming echoes in time, the song and dance of their forebears.

A shiver went up my spine. I gave thanks for the legacy of a people who maintain great wisdom and sure knowledge about the life-sustaining connection to this land — a lesson that ironically appears to be completely lost on the MNR, to its everlasting shame.

Romaine Miller
Barrie

A perfect day for a walk in the park with good friends.

Park march

Park cenotaph

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