Springwater Township ponies up $10,000 to help re-imagine Springwater Park – Camp Nibi

February 21, 2014

An economically sustainable plan is what has always been needed.

Honour treaties park 20131226

It is appropriate that a 177 year old municipal township gets the ball rolling in welcoming back our 10,000 year old neighbours for what will become an internationally-important, cross-cultural treasure.

From today’s print edition of the Barrie Examiner by Cheryl Browne, Money possible to help Springwater Park pdf:

SPRINGWATER TWP. – The gates of Springwater Provincial Park may be pushed a little more open as council sets aside $10,000 for its re-opening this year.

Although the park remains technically locked up, Springwater Township council has voted yes to Coun. Sandy McConkey’s motion to set aside $10,000 to help re-open the provincial park that’s been in limbo since the Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR) changed its status to non-operational last year.

“I can’t say how the money will be used,” said McConkey, Thursday. “We just want to be able to have access to it in case the user groups need it.”

Coun. Jack Hanna, who also voted in favour of the motion, said the money would be set aside from the economic development fund, but won’t be approved until the township’s budget receives final approval Feb. 25.

“I know negotiations are ongoing with the MNR and First Nations who are considering making it a training centre,” he said, but added he doesn’t know the current status of the talks.

After 107 years in operation, the 193-hectare day-use park’s status was unclear last year after the MNR locked the gates. The 29 orphaned animals that were receiving care in the park were removed and sent to other wildlife sanctuaries across Canada.

Elizabeth Brass Elson and several other First Nations people quietly moved in to occupy the park in early April and remained there for the duration of the year, leaving just days before Christmas 2013.

Brass Elson named their campground Camp Nibi – the native word for fresh or spring water – and ran instructional classes on native culture, sweat lodges and full moon ceremonies, which continue monthly.

The also cleaned up after walk-in only visitors and called police when teenagers started fires and vandalized buildings.

Talks with the MNR and Beausoleil First Nation continued, and in December, Brass Elson said they were assured they would be given a voice in the planning and development of the park lands for the continued use of all.

“We were told we would be in a partnership with the MNR,” said Brass Elson. “It was a shaking-hands deal with Beausoleil council. I was told to stand down and go home and warm up, so I did.”

Although the gates have been chained shut since last April, Les Stewart of the Springwater Park Citizens’ Coalition said dozens of people took to the trails on Family Day.

“People are still enjoying it, so councillors setting aside some money for its re-opening is a positive step forward,” Stewart said.

Mayor Linda Collins, who voted against setting the money aside, confirmed if the budget passes, it would go towards the re-opening of the park this year.

“Nothing is determined yet. I’m not opposed to nurturing Springwater, but the County of Simcoe is taking the lead there, frankly because they have the bigger purse,” Collins said.

She says the county has been assisting the township by hosting meetings between the First Nations and the MNR.

“We’re not a big enough player so we need to join hands with the County of Simcoe,” she said.

Spokesperson for the MNR, Jolanta Kowalski, wrote in an e-mail ‘the ministry is pleased to be working with Beausoleil First Nation to discuss a future partnership for the operation of Springwater Provincial Park.’

Kowalski also wrote that ‘the ministry is not considering selling Springwater Provincial Park. Maintaining public ownership keeps the park regulated under the Provincial Park and Conservation Reserves Act and ensures this land is protected for future generations.

Brass Elson said she and several First Nations friends will go the park for an anniversary ceremonial sleep-over April 1.

“It will be nice to spend some time in the park again.”


Come on out.

Sun park vertical 20140228 2

It’s about the land.

Sun Park 20131210It’s about the water.

Park spring

It’s about time for spring, I’d say.

Please distribute.


The $10,000 budget was approved on Feb 25th. Thanks to those on Council who voted for it (4 “yeahs”, 2 “nays”). This amount represents about 0.04% of the township’s 2014 operating budget.

Proportionally, the County of Simcoe should be in the $161,200 range. Annually.


NEWS: Ontario government, First Nation agree on joint partnership at Springwater Park – Camp Nibi

December 20, 2013

Elizabeth, Kimberly Rose and Sylvie (l to r). Photo: Anne Nahuis

Ontario government, First Nation agree on joint partnership at Springwater Park – Camp Nibi

Springwater Provincial Park – renamed Camp Nibi by a group of First Nations women who have occupied it for nine months – is to be a partnership with the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Beausoleil First Nation.

Beausoleil First Nation and the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources are in discussions which ensure the interest of Camp Nibi/Midewiwin Lodge for their continued traditional, cultural, spiritual education will continue to be provided for on these lands of Springwater Park, Elizabeth Brass Elson said today.

“The traditional territories of Beausoleil First Nation will be protected and our teachings and ceremony will continue. Camp Nibi and Three Fires Midewiwin Lodge will have a voice in the planning and development of the park lands for the continued use of all in the future,” she said.

An agreement between the Ministry and the First Nation is good news for all, Brass Elson said.

“We are satisfied that our vision for Camp Nibi has been recognized. Camp Nibi and the Eastern Doorway of The Three Fires Midewiwin Lodge will be working together with the First Nation to bring traditional spiritual teachings on the land of Springwater Park.”

The past nine months at Camp Nibi have been the scene of ceremonies, teachings, potluck suppers and – most important – connection with the land and the surrounding community.

It’s been an important journey for Brass Elson, known to many in Simcoe County for her leadership role in the battle to stop Dump Site 41.

She turned her attention to Springwater Park – part of the traditional territory of Beausoleil First Nation – after the Ontario government declared it non-operational as of April 1, 2013.

“I found my true spiritual connection with the land here,” she said. People came from all over Ontario to camp with the women who were in the park through the high heat of summer and the recent bitter cold. Locals were generous with support and donations.

“Chi Miigwetch, a big thank you to all those who supported us, our friends and our allies,” Brass Elson said. “And special thanks to Beausoleil First Nation and Ontario Parks for recognizing our vision for these lands.”

Two women joined Brass Elson – an Anishinabek from Chimnissing (Beausoleil First Nation) – in a steadfast determination to ensure that the land remains protected in an area north of Barrie that’s being subjected to intense development pressures.

They are Kimberly Rose Edwards, a Richmond Hill resident from the Mohawk community of Oka, and Sylvie Simard of Kapuskasing, a Mi’kmaq from New Brunswick.

“This has been my destiny,” said Edwards. A seer, she found her native roots a decade ago and saw the Camp Nibi lands long before she arrived to support Brass Elson in April.

“I came to learn,” said Simard. “My ancestors were calling.”

News release from Camp Nibi

Cross posted on iLoveMidhurst.ca.

NOTE: A very similar article appeared in the Springwater News on January 2, 2014. pdf

Chi-miigwetch to Mark and Jennifer Guest for their firewood donation.

June 12, 2013

One and one-half cords of seasoned hardwood (oak and maple) for the Springwater Park – Camp Nibi teaching lodge.

Wood 1a

A fire is a very important part of traditional spiritual practices.

Wood 2a

This amount of high-quality wood should, with care, last about a week of 24/7 tending. Delivered right to the lodge.

Chi-miigwetch =  a “big thank you” in Anishinabek.

The Anishinabek Teaching Lodge at Springwater Park – Camp Nibi is well on its way to solving everyone’s problems.

May 27, 2013

Drawing on ancient teachings and wisdom, a special teaching place enhances an “unwanted” public park.
Lodge part2

On the site of an over-grown shuffleboard pad in an abandoned provincial park.

Abandoned shuffleboard

A lodge is a type of spiritual “doorway” that links several levels. the upper- and lower-worlds. Past, present and future. A focus, a locus of pride, unity, strength and vision.

Lodge full

From the interpretations of the very special people who have been drawn to Camp Nibi, this specific lodge is a very, very positive action.

Lawrence Kim

This is the 3rd lodge built as a co-operative action by First and Settler Nations in Simcoe County.


The first lodge at Stop Dumpsite 41 was key to breaking the back of that +20 year misunderstanding.

Beth Mel

The 2nd one still stands at Awenda Provincial Park.


First Nations peoples have never relinquished their rights to harvest the land in keeping with their spiritual practices.


These are not “special” considerations or anyone “being nice” or tolerant or charitable. These are “supra-laws” (treaty rights) that pre-dated and supersede any subsequent settler laws.


That non-aboriginals individuals helped out was by invitation and reflects our hostess’ grace, good humour and generosity.


Everyone is welcomed to ask how they might contribute in furthering these aims.

Beausoleil Island First Nation

Beausoleil First Nation

Material request: haystack tarp for Springwater Park – Camp Nibi lodge.

May 23, 2013

An important next-step is the construction of a 30 foot by 80 foot Anishinabe lodge.

Lodge tarp

What is required is a tarp to cover it.

Example: Princess Auto — 33 x 48 ft Haystack Tarp, SKU: 8004788, two of them for $600.00

If you can help, please contact: Camp Nibi at 705 790-7745 (CampNibi2013-at-gmail.com) or 705 737-4635 (les.j.stewart-at-gmail.com).

Anishnaabe lodge

Structure.Anishnaabe lodge interiorInterior.

FYI: To see Mr. Ian Taylor‘s response to this post, click here and go to Comment 7 or see below:

“How about you donating all proceeds from your book on the history of Springwater Provincial Park to go towards this great cause. I’m also pretty sure that tarps where not used in the tradional building of lodges.

Springwater Park – Camp Nibi is an interim step in the establishment of a traditional nationally-significant healing centre.

May 20, 2013

A healing, spiritual and teaching centre integrated into mainstream western culture, set on a very powerful and significant First and Settler Nations landscape.

William James

A place for all races to learn from each other. A realization of traditional Anishinabek teachings.

It’ll need all our help to do: to realize the reason the 193 hectares were saved from the wastelands.


The greatest use of a life is to spend it on something that will outlast it.

If you care enough for a result, you will most certainly attain it.

If things are ever to move upward, some one must take the first step, and assume the risk of it. No one who is not willing to try charity, to try non-resistance as the saint is always willing, can tell whether these methods will or will not succeed.

If any organism fails to fulfill its potentialities, it becomes sick.

We can act as if there were a God; feel as if we were free; consider Nature as if she were full of special designs; lay plans as if we were to be immortal; and we find then that these words do make a genuine difference in our moral life.

I saw a moving sight the other morning before breakfast in a little hotel where I slept in the dusty fields. The young man of the house shot a little wolf called coyote in the early morning. The little heroic animal lay on the ground, with his big furry ears, and his clean white teeth, and his little cheerful body, but his little brave life was gone. It made me think how brave all living things are. Here little coyote was, without any clothes or house or books or anything, with nothing to pay his way with, and risking his life so cheerfully — and losing it — just to see if he could pick up a meal near the hotel. He was doing his coyote-business like a hero, and you must do your boy-business, and I my man-business bravely, too, or else we won’t be worth as much as a little coyote.

The moral flabbiness born of the exclusive worship of the bitch-goddess SUCCESS. That — with the squalid cash interpretation put on the word success — is our national disease.

— Dr. William James 1842 – 1910

PS: A new mandate for the abandoned land: the same “old Springwater” (ie. trails, cenotaph, ponds) but now anchored with a sustainable and mature nation-to-nation relationship.

Why are there el cheapo Solar lights installed at Springwater Park – Camp Nibi?

May 16, 2013

Visitors to Camp Nibi sometimes exit when it’s dark, being careful to religiously exit before the MNR’s 10 pm curfew.

Solar lights

These little $2.00 each lights are important for a sense of security, physical protection and direction. They’re very useful and when they’re gone, they’re missed.

The ladies at the camp have particularly missed the 24 or so that have grown legs over the last 7 weeks or so. If you’d like to keep an eye on these wayward fellows, that would be appreciated.

Or maybe just drop off an extra one or two on your next visit?

Either way, thanks for re-affirming your Huronia tolerance, hospitality and sense of class.

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