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The Lands We Play On

I have been learning more about the lands we play on, the lands where The Quiet Guiding Co. trips take place, while we in Ontario wait to see what happens when (if?) our six week lockdown ends.

The Lands We Play On

Let me start with my why: I’m not originally from Canada. I didn’t do my primary or secondary education here which is when I learned about the Indigenous history of where I grew up (Ithaca, New York – the traditional lands of the Cayuga, the Haudenosaunee, and the Susquehannock. As I understand it, these are unceded [stolen] lands.). So I’m doing a little catch up on years’ worth of education. I want to understand the history of the lands we travel to, who lived there, and where they are now.

Cornell and Cayuga Lake
Photo Credit: Will Barkoff (Unsplash)

My primary source of information is Native-Land.ca and rounded out with some additional research. You can use this website to learn more about where you’re from. The organizers have done a fair amount of work on North America, South America, Australia, and part of northern Europe. The website is a work-in-progress and covers traditional territories, languages spoken, and treaties. It’s fascinating, enlightening stuff!

In 2021, The Quiet Guiding Co. will be operating trips (assuming we get our COVID numbers under control) in Algonquin Provincial Park, Killarney Provincial Park, and in the region of the town of Temagami and Lady Evelyn-Smoothwater Provincial Park.

All three areas are the traditional territories of the Anishinabewaki.

Algonquin Provincial Park

Algonquin Park is also the traditional territory of the Algonquin, where the park’s name comes from. While there is a lot of land in eastern Ontario that is unceded Algonquin land, the land we play on is covered by Treaty 61, the Robinson-Huron treatyThe corner of Algonquin Park that we’ll spend some time in (near Access Point 1) is also covered by the Williams Treaties of 1923.

Algonquin Canoe Trip

Killarney Provincial Park

I’ve written about where Killarney’s name comes from, which includes some of the Indigenous history of the area.

The Mississauga Nation also call the Killarney region home. Its lands fall under the Robinson-Huron Treaty.

Inaugural canoe trip

Temagami Cluster of Parks

The Algonquin as well as the Cree call the Temagami area (Robinson-Huron Treaty) home.

Image for attention for COVID-19 update

Why Should You Care?

It’s a matter of equity. Communities ceded many of these lands under unfair circumstances (insufficient compensation, inequitable reserve lands, inability to harvest from the land, etc.). Canada stole lands without treaties or agreements in other circumstances. The current communities deal with a whole host of problems as a result: decades-long boil water advisories and diminishing lands as provinces bulldoze and develop, to name just two of many issues.

Discussion is growing that land should be returned to the communities from where they came. (This is being discussed south of the border too. Here’s a great piece from The Atlantic about returning American National Parks to Native American tribes.) We can lend our voices to the discussion and advocate for the return of park land, ‘crown’ land, and other types of land.

This is the start of my education. I have lots more to learn. If you’d like to continue learning with me, join me for a trip.