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First Nations, city join forces to run provincial park

Serpent River First Nation, Mississauga First Nation and Elliot Lake operating as Mississagi Park Foundation

Serpent River First Nation, Mississauga First Nation and the City of Elliot Lake have entered into an agreement to jointly operate Mississagi Provincial Park.

Announced by the province on Jan. 31, the agreement means that all three parties — together operating as the Mississagi Park Foundation — will enjoy the economic benefits of the park’s operation, including employment and related tourism activities.

“Years of hard work and determination have resulted in the formation of the Mississagi Park Foundation, an effort that will allow all three communities to continue to provide recreational activities within this unique landscape both now and for the next Seven Generations,” Mississauga First Nation Chief Bob Chiblow said in a government news release.

“We will ensure all those who visit the park will not only experience its great beauty but will also gain a deeper and more meaningful understanding of the Anishinaabe culture when they leave.”

Located 25 kilometres north of Elliot Lake, within Robinson Huron Treaty territory and the traditional territory of the Anishinaabek, Mississagi Provincial Park encompasses more than 12,100 acres (4,900 hectares) of wilderness.

According to the province, it’s classified as a Natural Environment Park because of its “significant, preserved natural features, such as its rolling hills, forests, lakes, and streams.”

Within the park, visitors can paddle lakes, hike trails, and explore abandoned copper mines and logging camps from the area’s industrial past.

More than 19,000 people visited the park in 2021.

Ontario Parks currently has four other operating agreements with Indigenous communities, including including Beausoleuil First Nation to operate Springwater Provincial Park, Moose Cree First Nation to operate Tidewater Provincial Park, Curve Lake First Nation to operate the visitor centre at Petroglyphs Provincial Park, and Lac La Croix to operate park entry stations and maintenance of canoe portages at Quetico Provincial Park.