A First Nations band from the Leamington area has attained reserve status for a parcel of land that had been promised more than 200 years ago.
Caldwell First Nation announced through an online live-stream on Monday that it has acquired a 200-acre lot at the corner of Bevel Line Road and Seacliff Drive in Leamington. The land will be used to establish a reserve for the Caldwell community, marking a milestone for the First Nation that was one of the three remaining First Nations in Canada without reserve lands.
“The process was arduous and challenging,” said Councillor Robyn Perkins in a news release. "Not only was the legal battle significant, but the paperwork and time this process took is also a testament to the perseverance and resiliency of the Caldwell people.”
Despite not having a signatory or a beneficiary, a tract of land was taken from the Caldwell First Nation by the Crown back in 1790. The First Nation later aided the British during the War of 1812 and was promised retention of their homes on land at Point Pelee. However, the community was burned out of their homes by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police in the 1920s.
The Caldwell First Nation pointed out that the initial promise from the Crown has finally come to fruition, over 200 years later.
“Creating a land base for Caldwell First Nation is an important step in the history of Canada," said Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations Carolyn Bennett in the release. "Today we are able to right a historical wrong, advance reconciliation, and support the treaty relationship with Caldwell First Nation. These lands will benefit your citizens and help you realize your vision for housing and economic development.”
Caldwell's plans for the land include net-zero residential development, community facilities, and a new administrative building. The First Nation also plans to have housing available for all First Nation citizens who would like to move back and create job opportunities on the reserve.