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Groups working to keep Springwater Park open

In Council Watch
Jan 2nd, 2014

By Laurie Watt Barrie Advance

Springwater Park’s Camp Nibi is still going strong, as park supporters try to keep it viable.

In fact, the Beausoleil First Nation and the Ontario of Ministry of Natural Resources, came to an agreement Dec. 20 to become partners.

The park, which opened in 1927, became non-operational March 31, 2013.

The closure prompted the creation of two local groups which have worked to get the ministry to reverse its decision.

And last April, Anishinaabe First Nations member Elizabeth Brass Elson and some friends moved into the park, founding Camp Nibi, where they have lived ever since.

In July, a teaching lodge and traditional Midewiwin sweat lodge were erected and Brass Elson hopes to eventually turn the area into a First Nations education and spiritual centre, which would be open for everyone to experience.

“The traditional territories of Beausoleil First Nation will be protected and our teachings and ceremony will continue,” Brass Elson said. “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.”

Meanwhile the Friends of Springwater Park is meeting with the ministry Jan. 8, but it’s unknown if a second partnership will be struck.

The group funded the refurbishment of the cenotaph in the park this fall, and the MNR opened the front gates so people could participate in a Remembrance Day ceremony there.

In the past three months, the group has raised more than $100,000, which is the annual operating cost of the park, the organization’s Ian Taylor said.

It has also applied for charity status so it can partner with the ministry.

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