Bancroft, Ontario – Mike Bossio, Member of Parliament for Hastings—Lennox and Addington, today joined with the volunteer Project Committee, representatives from the Town of Bancroft, municipalities and organizations across North Hastings, and many of the volunteers from the community who helped bring this Canada 150 project to fruition, to celebrate the opening of the Eagles Nest – An Algonquin Story Interpretive Trail.
“This is a fantastic project for the community,” said Bossio. “Bancroft has such an impressive landmark in the Eagles Nest, and I am thrilled that we are finding ways to bring our Indigenous and settler communities together to learn more about each other and celebrate our shared heritage for Canada’s 150th birthday.”
Eagles Nest is a town park overlooking the community of Bancroft. Earlier this year, Bossio announced funding of $67,300 for the “Eagles Nest Project – An Algonquin Story” on behalf of the Honourable Mélanie Joly, Minister of Canadian Heritage.
Bossio brought greetings from Joly, who stated: “the Government of Canada is proud to support reconciliation initiatives that shine a light on the rich heritage, achievements and cultures of Indigenous Peoples, including the Eagles Nest Project – An Algonquin Story. Through this unique project, the Algonquin people will share their history from a new perspective and bring their stories to life. Initiatives like these are essential to building greater understanding between Indigenous and Non-Indigenous Canadians, and will help forge the path to ensure that our next 150 years are marked by respect, trust, and optimism.”
Thanks to funding in part provided by the Government of Canada through the Canada 150 Fund, the completion of the interpretive trail was celebrated at a special ceremony on Eagles Nest, followed by a reception following at Bancroft’s Club 580.
Paul Jenkins, the Acting Mayor of the Town of Bancroft, welcomed everyone and said “On behalf of the Town of Bancroft, we thank you for the huge volunteer effort that has gone into making this project a success. This is not only a project that provides an opportunity to share unique stories of our shared past with the Algonquin people, but has also helped us develop relationships that will provide for new opportunities of working together into the future. It is community development at its best.”
Stephen Hunter, Algonquin Negotiation Representative to the Algonquins of Ontario, spoke on behalf of Kijicho Manito Madaouskarini Algonquin First Nation, indicating “this project was of great significance to our people in and around the Bancroft area. We are pleased to share our language, traditions, and our knowledge of this land with others. Algonquin members recognize this trail system as an example of meaningful engagement and a step forward in the spirit of truth and reconciliation.”
Drummers welcomed attendees as they arrived on Eagles Nest, and Ada Tinney provided a special smudge ceremony. Participants enjoyed a short walk of the Hawkwatch Trail Loop where many of the Algonquin story panels can be found.
Peter Whitehead of the Bancroft Trails Committee and Steve Wilkins of the Bancroft Area Stewardship Council, co-chairs of the project, expressed gratitude to the volunteers who made the project possible. They included: the other Project Committee members, Roger Kelly, Dora Yateman, Stephen Hunter, Dave Naulls, Ethan Huner, and Paul Jenkins; those who provided information about geology, flora and fauna, early European settlement and the indigenous history in the region; Patrick Marcotte, who designed and coordinated the building of the beautiful timber-frame kiosks; those who helped with kiosk installation, social media, signage installation and French translation; as well as Paul D’Aoust, Chris Fouts, Terry Bradt, John O’Donnell, and Deb Jeffrey.
In addition to the funding through the Government of Canada, Whitehead and Wilkins recognized the Town of Bancroft for its continued support for this initiative. Other financial donors were acknowledged including the Hastings Highlands Hilly Hundred, Freymond Lumber Ltd., the CFDC, and the Bancroft Lion’s Club. Donors of time, space and equipment have also contributed to the success of the project. Thanks were given to Patrick Marcotte, the Nichol family, Levesque Bros., and Joy Bible Camp. The project has shown itself to be a model for community collaboration.