Ontario Announces New First Nations Partnership to Operate Mississagi Provincial Park
Innovative agreement will continue to support local economy and employment opportunities in Elliot Lake, and Mississauga and Serpent River First Nations
January 31, 2023
Environment, Conservation and Parks
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BLIND RIVER — The Ontario government has entered into an operating agreement with the newly formed Mississagi Park Foundation to maintain and operate Mississagi Provincial Park. The new operating agreement came into effect January 15, 2023.
“Our government is proud to partner with the City of Elliot Lake, Serpent River and Mississauga First Nations to support our provincial park system which will help build stronger communities,” said David Piccini, Minister of the Environment, Conservation and Parks. “Mississagi Provincial Park is one of Ontario’s best-kept secrets with a rugged landscape of ancient hills, and valleys with sparkling blue lakes ideal for fishing or canoeing, and I encourage everyone to come and enjoy all it has to offer.”
This innovative agreement for the operation of Mississagi Provincial Park by the Mississagi Park Foundation, comprised of the City of Elliot Lake, Serpent River First Nation and Mississauga First Nation, will bring new tourism and other economic benefits to the local economy, as all three partners share in the employment opportunities.
“This initiative is a win-win for Ontario Parks visitors and local First Nations who will share in the economic benefit of operating this important recreational space,” said Greg Rickford, Minister of Indigenous Affairs. “I would like to acknowledge the hard work that has gone into the creation of the Mississagi Park Foundation, and I encourage all Ontarians to visit this outstanding park and experience local Indigenous culture.”
“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,” said Chief Bob Chiblow, Mississauga First Nation. “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.”
“Serpent River First Nation looks forward to working in partnership with our neighbours and relatives,” said Chief Brent Bissaillion, Serpent River First Nation. “The Mississagi Park Foundation will provide a strong base to strengthen our relationships, and make Mississagi Provincial Park a premier destination for relaxation and enjoying the natural environment. Visitors will experience the best the North Shore has to offer.”
“The city was pleased to keep the park open and operating efficiently since 2014, but I look forward to this new partnership with our neighbours being recognized by the provincial government,” said Andrew Wannan, Acting Mayor, City of Elliot Lake.
Mississagi Provincial Park — located in the Penokean Hills, within the Robinson Huron Treaty territory and the traditional territory of the Anishinaabek, (about 25 kilometres north of Elliot Lake) — offers seven hiking trails of varying duration and difficulty levels, rustic and backcountry camping, lakes for canoeing and kayaking, excellent trout fishing and more.
- In celebration of this new operating agreement, the Mississagi Park Foundation has released a redesigned park crest. The new crest predominately features a thunderbird, a mythological creature routed in Indigenous storytelling and tradition, the Helenbar Lookout, a unique geographic element in the park, as well as shades of orange, symbolizing the ongoing journey of truth and reconciliation.
- Mississagi Provincial Park was established in 1965. It consists of more than 12,100 acres (4,900 hectares) of pristine wilderness.
- The park is classified as a Natural Environment Park because of its significant, preserved natural features, such as its rolling hills, forests, lakes and streams.
- Visitors can paddle pristine lakes, hike numerous trails and explore abandoned copper mines and logging camps from the area’s industrial past.
- In 2021, Mississagi Provincial Park hosted over 19,000 visits.
- In addition to Mississagi Provincial Park, Ontario Parks has operating agreements with four Indigenous communities, 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.