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The First Indigenous Nation in Ontario to Manage a Provincial Park

Re-securing the land for their people

Springwater Provincial Park is located near Barrie, Ontario, within the traditional territory of Beausoleil First Nation (BFN). The site has been a long-standing traditional area of continuous use and significance to the people of BFN but was managed and controlled by the Province of Ontario. Their goal was to re-secure and control the land for their people.

To gain control over the park, BFN had to provide rock solid evidence that that could manage it, and funding was also going to be required to re-open the park. MacLeod Farley & Associates was hired by BFN to develop a Business Plan for Springwater Provincial Park in November 2014. This report was preceded by, and built upon, an Initial Findings Report, a Concept Paper and a Feasibility Study undertaken by MacLeod Farley & Associates in 2013.

BFN successfully used the Business Plan developed by our firm to negotiate a co-management agreement with the Province of Ontario and has been operating the Park since July 2015. BFN is the first Indigenous nation in Ontario to take over management of a Provincial Park located within its traditional territory.

MacLeod Farley and Associates was subsequently retained to help secure funding to hire staff for the park. The park is now used by BFN for pow wows, recreation, and an Anishinabek cultural program for elementary and secondary school students.

In 2017, the Indigenous Education department of the Simcoe County District School Board signed a three-year memorandum of understanding with Beausoleil First Nation to provide their Grade 5 students with centrally funded and organized outdoor education field trips at Springwater Provincial Park. In the last three years, close to 10,000 students have participated in the Park program.

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