Chippewas of Rama First Nation has taken steps to protect Chief Island, including the passage of a new regulation that requires permits for those mooring there.
The Chief Island bylaw and permitting regulation came into effect July 21.
“These two pieces of legislation work together to govern the use of Chief Island and the bay,” the First Nation stated in a news release. “It limits the number of boats allowed to moor, and provides authorization for Rama bylaw, security or police officers to issue tickets to those mooring in the bay or going on the island without a permit.”
Concerns about gatherings at the Lake Couchiching island, a sacred burial site, led to a “tipping point” for Rama in the summer of 2020, when a number of parties took place near the island despite the COVID-19 pandemic.
Rama surveyed its members and found there was strong support for taking measures to protect the island.
Signage will be installed at the island in the coming weeks to inform people about the bylaw and the permitting regulation.
Rama members don’t need a permit to moor their boats, but non-members will have to acquire one at a cost of $20 per boat. Rama will issue a maximum of 80 permits per day.
There will also be “education/reconciliation permits” available to non-members who want to access the island for education or reconciliation purposes. They must be accompanied by a Rama member with knowledge of the island and its history. Those permits cost $25.
“... Permitting will support education and reconciliation efforts, providing opportunities for non-members to learn about the Chippewas of Rama First Nation, Ojibwe culture, the Anishinaabe history and way of life,” the news release stated.
Those found to be in contravention of the bylaw could face a fine of up to $1,000, a maximum of 30 days imprisonment or both.
Rama can revoke permits if there is excessive noise or inappropriate activity, such as the use of fireworks.
“Rama has created a safe place for our members to swim and enjoy our property. We are asking the public to respect our lands in the same way that lakefront property of private homeowners is respected,” the news release stated.
More information about Chief Island, the new bylaw and regulation, and the permit application process can be found here.