Lodge and riverside property acquired for Peskotomuhkati Nation
Federal Government purchases 1,011 hectare Camp Chiputneticook for Indigenous population
After more than 100 years, a large piece of land and dozens of artifacts significant to the Peskotomuhkati Nation, have been acquired by the federal government and transferred to the First Nation.
Camp Chiputneticook in Scotch Ridge, near St. Andrews, is a 1,011 hectare property along the St. Croix River.
The lodge there was built around 1910 and has been privately owned by the Orser family. The federal government purchased the property and on Saturday, it announced it was transferring the land to the Peskotomuhkati Nation at Skutik.
"This lodge has an incredible connection to my people," said Chief Hugh Akagi, "even my great uncle was one of the guides there."
For more than a decade, Akagi has been working on proving its connection to Passamaquoddy history. Discussions began with the federal government about transferring the land to the First Nation during the Harper era.
But Akagi said progress really began following the last federal election. A meeting with Carolyn Bennett, the Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs two years ago, helped the process gain momentum, he said.
On Saturday, Bennett joined Akagi at Camp Chiputneticook's lodge to announce the acquisition of the land for the First Nation.
It wasn't revealed how much the government paid for the 1,011 hectare property, but a real estate listing showed it priced at $895,000.
Akagi said the return of the property will help local Indigenous people reconnect with the land.
"I even have dreams of it being something like a healing lodge where we can get our elders together," he said.
Along with the land and the lodge, the Canadian Museum of History helped secure more than 100 artifacts from the site.
"It's actually a very unique collection," said Talena Atfield, a curator at the museum.
Atfield said it's the first known collection of Passamoquoddy objects in Canada. Those artifacts, she said, are often mixed in with those of other tribes in the region. The collection includes tools, beaded clothing and jewellery, woven baskets, and even canoes.
"The conditions in the lodge were really favourable, like to a preservation environment," said Atfield.
The cold weather in the winter and lack of humidity kept the items in astonishing condition, she said. The Canadian Museum of History will now be partnering with the First Nation to help oversee the care of the items.
Akagi said the move by government to purchase the property was a step toward reconciliation. "This is real. This reconciliation you can actually put a story to it," he said, "and take it away from just being a word."