'This land belongs to the Mi’kmaq people': Historic land transfer on Nova Scotia’s south shore
Jim and Margaret Drescher have owned Windhorse Farm in Wentzells Lake, N.S. for more than 30 years, and they know the land pretty well.
The pair has decided however to return it to a people who know it even better.
“We walked in the old growth forest and we walked in the gardens, down to the river into the lake and we thought this land belongs to the Mi’kmaq people,” says Margaret Drescher.
The farm sits on 200 acres, 180 acres is undeveloped forest first settled by the Wentzell family 150 years ago.
They eventually sold it to the Dreschers who operate it as a wilderness retreat.
Now, through a combination of purchase and gift, ownership is being transferred to the Ulnooweg Education Centre - an Indigenous-led charitable organization.
Asked how he knows this is the right decision, Drescher says, “I think the land, the land is the wisest and most persistent speaker here.”
Chris Googoo is the Ulnooweg Education Centre’s chief operating officer.
He says they will continue to use the land as a place to heal and educate.
“It’s more than just a piece of property to us,” Googoo says. “I just immediately had visions of our Indigenous children and non-Indigenous children, as well running through the forest, that ancient forest, and learning about the interconnectedness between us and Mother Nature.”
Googoo believes this is the first time a land transfer like this has ever happened with an Indigenous charity in Nova Scotia.
“I trust that it’s in the right hands now,” says Drescher.
The negotiations have been ongoing for more than three years, and now, Windhorse Farms could be back in the hands of the Mi’kmaq People as early as next week.
The Dreschers say people have always been welcome to come and walk the 23 kilometres of trails at the farm - a tradition that will continue after the land is returned to the Mi’kmaq People.