The sounds of ancient Ojibwe Big Drums and songs welcomed members and visitors to the Grand Opening of the wholly owned and operated Gas BAR and Convenience Store as the ZAAGA’IGANINIWAG – Caldwell First Nation shared its confidence in realizing the goal of generating the economic independence and strength it was once denied.

“Today you are standing on the land set aside for us, on this new day and the beginning of a new
business. My people have lived, hunted, loved and been in the care of our mother earth and all the
species for thousands of years,” proclaimed one of the youngest of the Caldwell First Nation’s
members, Melia Thibeault as stood between Chief Mary Duckworth and Councillor Doug Heil to
welcome the members, dignitaries, and settlers in attendance at the Grand Opening celebration.

The event marked a major turning point for the People of the Lake, also known in as the Caldwell First Nation, according to Chief Duckworth: “We are now generating income and independence as a sovereign First Nation. We are getting ready to build a beautiful new community with Passivhaus homes, a cultural and youth centre, and retirement home to meet the needs of our members and their ancestors who struggled and triumphed against assimilation. We are set to open Marina soon, too.” Duckworth added, “The economic reconciliation and return to trade that has always been a part of our nation will not only help our community rebuild and heal but also contributes to the economic development of the entire region.”

The nation welcomed everyone in the region to the event which featured a live band, free lunch and video greetings from National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations, RoseAnne Archibald, Grand Chief of the Association of Iroquois and Allied First Nations Joel Abram and Mayor Hilda MacDonald of Leamington who congratulated the Caldwell First Nation and leadership on the new gas bar and variety store: “Through the leadership of Chief Duckworth and the hard work of everyone involved, this important project represents the beginning of economic sustainability for the Caldwell First Nation. We look forward to celebrating together in their growth and prosperity for many years to come.”

The Caldwell First Nation Gas Bar is one of the largest Gas facilities in Southwestern Ontario with 16 Full-Service Gas Pumps serving: regular, premium, clear, and dyed diesel at affordable prices alongside a convenience store featuring snacks, drinks, t-shirts, hats, hoodies, traditional First Nation shirts, skirts, and many other gift items. It is now open seven days a week from 7am to 8pm each day and is easy to access from all points in Southwestern Ontario.

QUICK FACTS ABOUT Caldwell First Nation

They are the most Southwestern First Nation in Canada and they are a distinct and federally recognized
Indian band.

They call themselves Zaaga’iganiniwag *, meaning: “People of the Lake” and used to be referred to by
such names as the “Chippewas of Pelee”, “Point Pelee Indians” and “Caldwell’s band of Indians”.

The opening of the Caldwell First Nation Gas Bar and Convenience Store is an incredible accomplishment. Their ancestors and Nation persevered, won the struggle, and ratified a land claim settlement with the Federal government for the loss of their traditional lands going back more than 220 years.

In May 1790, the Ottawa, Chippewa, Pottawatomi, and Huron surrendered a large tract of land in southwestern Ontario, including Point Pelee. But Caldwell First Nation did not sign or benefit from the treaty.

Caldwell First Nation served as allies of the British during the War of 1812. In consideration of this service, they were promised land at Point Pelee. They continued to occupy Point Pelee, with the support of the Canadian government, up until the late 1850s.

In the 1920s, many of the bandmembers were forced off their traditional lands by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP).


Why is gas cheaper on First Nation reserves?
You may have noticed cheaper gas advertised at stations on First Nations reserves. This is often because on-reserve Native owned businesses are exempt from some taxes. The rules differ across different provinces/territories but this is generally the case. Many First Nation gas stations will pass these tax-savings on to customers. Offering lower prices at the pumps to both status and non-status customers.

Additionally in most provinces those with a Status Card are entitled to even cheaper gas. With a status card gas purchased for personal use, on-reserve is tax-exempt. Some provinces/territories have different rules. You can check out our province specific pages for more details.

Do indigenous people get free gas?
Nope! Although this is a common belief in some circles, Indigenous people do not get free gas. Certain tax-exemptions do exist in some provinces for those with a status card. Which is most likely where this rumour originated.

Do indigenous people pay taxes on gas?
The answer is sometimes. In most provinces gas for those with a status card is tax-exempt. As long as it is purchased for personal use, from an on-reserve gas station. Gas purchased off reserve is not tax-exempt.

Can anyone buy gas on First Nations?
Yes! Even without a status card you can still buy gas/diesel and tobacco at First Nation gas stations. You wouldn’t receive the tax-exemption, but in some cases you’ll still end up paying a cheaper price. Many First Nation gas stations are promoting their businesses. Attempting to bring in more off-reserve customers. Also, more and more stations are opening up on Urban Reserves. These are often found in more urban areas and serve both status and non-status customers. These gas stations help provide employment and economic growth for the First Nation.