Windsor

The United Church of Canada returns land to Delaware Nation

Fairfield is a historic village in Bothwell, between Chatham and London Ontario, that was first settled by the Lenape people 227 years ago.

The United Church of Canada is returning a significant piece of land to the Lenape people of Delaware Nation

Fairfield Museum and National Historic Site (Google Maps)

The United Church of Canada is returning a significant piece of land to the Eelünaapéewi Lahkéewiit people of Delaware Nation Friday morning.

Fairfield is a historic village in Bothwell, between Chatham and London Ontario, that was first settled by the Lenape people 227 years ago.

A ceremony being held on the site will officially mark the paperwork to execute the land transfer, Friday.

"I think the community is going to be really proud of getting that piece of property back because it's part of who they are," said Chief Denise Stonefish, with Eelünaapéewi Lahkéewiit.

Chief Denise Stonefish, Delaware Nation. (Submitted)

History of Fairfield

Fairfield was established on May 8, 1792 by Eelünaapéewi Lahkéewiit ancestors and the Moravian missionaries who lived among the group for generations. In the war of 1812, Fairfield was destroyed by American soldiers. The community was forced to relocate to the south side of the Thames River. For the past 74 years, Fairfield has been operated as a historical park and museum by The United Church of Canada.

"I actually view it as the people whose story it is are finally getting to tell the story," said Cheryl-Ann Stadelbauer-Sampa, with The United Church of Canada.

The United Church of Canada is returning a historically significant piece of land to the Lenape people. Fairfield is a historic village in Chatham-Kent that was first settled by the Lenape 227 years ago. To tell us more, we've reached Denise Stonefish, chief of Eelünaapéewi Lahkéewiit, also known as the Delaware Nation at Moraviantown. 6:46

Truth and Reconciliation prompts land transfer

Since 1960, the nation has been trying to take back the land, said Stonefish. 

But both Stonefish and The United Church recognize it took the Truth and Reconciliation commission to bring the transfer to fruition.

"The Truth and Reconciliation Commission involved all of us to view ourselves as treaty people and to understand how broken the relationship is between indigenous people and settlers was, and how all of us have a role to play in the care and tending of that," said Stadelbauer-Sampa. "The United Church is deeply committed to being honest with ourselves with our colonial past."

"That will make our home whole again," said Stonefish.

Cheryl-Ann Stadelbauer-Sampa, Executive Minister, Antler River Watershed Regional Council (Submitted)

With files from Afternoon Drive, Jonathan Pinto, and Amy Dodge