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'This represents home': housing construction begins at Caldwell First Nation

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Housing construction has begun at Caldwell First Nation near Leamington where 28 residential units are planned as part of Phase One for the new development.

The first panel for the first home was hoisted on Tuesday.

“This is really exciting times for Caldwell First Nation,” said Chief Mary Duckworth.

“It's 130 years in the making of being able to reclaim and come back on to our territorial lands,” Duckworth explained. “Though we do live on them now, but to have a place to call home I think is important, and I know the community is very excited.”

According to the nation, the territory will offer long-term residences for descendants of the band who had been forcibly removed from the livelihood they had attained for centuries in the region and on Point Pelee and Pelee Island.

Fourplexes, duplexes and single family homes along with natural areas for ceremonial gatherings have been preserved near Seacliff Drive in Leamington. According to the nation, this homeland is the first of its kind in Southwestern Ontario with the Caldwell members planning and designing the community themselves in collaboration with architectural and engineering consulting firm Baird AE.

“This represents home,” Duckworth told CTV News. “This represents Truth and Reconciliation and action. And this represents Caldwell First Nation community saying we're here.”

The master plan for the community features more outdoor and community spaces. The Caldwell First Nation is also planning for an administration/multi-use complex, commercial properties and ceremonial space.

“It’s intimately important to us because, you know, it is the plan for the community. It is what we were all working towards, and to see all the hard work that the community put into it, leadership, our administration to see what's happening today, that's the best team work ever,” Duckworth said.

“The support from the Municipality of Leamington, they know we're here and they've given us all the assistance we've needed to be successful.”

Duckworth noted municipal leaders from across southwestern Ontario were expected to meet at Caldwell early next month.

“We're holding a symposium next Dec. 8 with all the mayors and the councillors to talk about Caldwell here. And what does that look like and what does that mean for both of us? So I think that's exciting for everyone,” Duckworth added.

“To be good neighbors. We have to come and understand each other work together. And in order to do that, we have to tell our truth. We have to tell our story.” 

Housing construction has started at Caldwell First Nation where 28 residential units are planned as part of Phase One for the new development near Leamington, Ont. on Wednesday, Nov. 29, 2023. (Chris Campbell/CTV News Windsor)Housing construction has started at Caldwell First Nation where 28 residential units are planned as part of Phase One for the new development near Leamington, Ont. on Wednesday, Nov. 29, 2023. (Chris Campbell/CTV News Windsor)

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