GRAND BEND, Ont. – Ontario’s Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry says talks continue in an effort to resolve an issue that led to the closure of a provincial park nearly two weeks ago.
Pinery Provincial Park in southwestern Ontario was closed to the public on Nov. 9 after demonstrators set up a trailer by the front gate in support of what police said was a land claim.
Ministry spokeswoman Emily Kirk says the trailer has been moved so that it now blocks the park entrance.
Kirk says the ministry and Ontario Provincial Police are involved in discussions with the individuals involved.
The park near Grand Bend, Ont., boasts about 10 kilometres of sand beach along Lake Huron and 21 square kilometres of forests and rolling dunes.
It has been the site of land claim protests in the past.
An Aboriginal family led by demonstrator Maynard T. George has made several attempts to “repossess” Pinery Provincial Park in past years, saying the land belongs to approximately 100 of his great-grandfather’s descendants.
In 2004, then Ontario attorney general Michael Bryant told the legislature that George’s claim was “an individual grievance” and not a land claim.
Bryant noted that the First Nations in the area — Kettle and Stony Point First Nation — had said that they didn’t endorse the grievance and that they have no land claim at Pinery.
Pinery Park is near Camp Ipperwash, where a land claim demonstration turned deadly in 1995 when a police sniper killed Dudley George — no relation to Maynard George — during a raid on the protesters’ camp.
The Chippewas of Kettle and Stony Point First Nation approved the deal with the federal government in 2015 to settle that claim.