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  • Dilico Christmas wish campaign a success
    by chrisk on December 20, 2022 at 7:57 pm

    Dilico Anishinabek Family Care staff Tom Auger and Vanessa McLaughlin pose with some the 800 Christmas Wish bags that were filled through Dilico’s 2022 Christmas Wish Campaign. Photo by Rick Garrick. Dilico Anishinabek Family Care’s 2022 Christmas Wish Campaign was successful in achieving its goal of filling 800 Christmas Wish bags for local babies, children and youth across Thunder Bay and district. “We are truly moved by the generosity of the community,” says Darcia Borg, executive director at Dilico. “Every year we see so many individuals and families making Christmas Wish one of their holiday traditions and we’re proud to say that this year is no exception. For children who may not otherwise receive the gift they hope for at Christmas, this is an opportunity to bring them joy. Every child deserves to feel special and due to the generosity of this community, hundreds of children will now have their Christmas wishes come true.” Vanessa McLaughlin, assistant director at Dilico, says there was a great response from the community to the Christmas Wish Campaign, which ran for about three weeks in November and early December. “People have enjoyed shopping for the gifts,” McLaughlin says. “A lot of families are buying the bags for children who are similar ages as their own and it turns into a family affair, so it’s been really good.” Tom Auger, assistant director at Dilico, says the Christmas Wish Campaign is very well received by the children and youth. “They love getting these Christmas Wish bags,” Auger says. “It’s just exciting for them, our workers show up at the home and drop off the gifts so it’s an exciting time for them.” Sherry Lessard, manager at Sovereign Dental, says it is very important to continue being involved with the Christmas Wish Campaign because the need in the community is so strong. “With our office being a pediatric specialty office also, we are seeing a lot of these children coming into our office,” Lessard says. “Seeing the size of their hearts, we want to just increase that size of their heart and give back to them. The feedback is awesome, and (we’re) hoping we encourage others to give and to donate. Any little bit can help make a little one’s morning just a little more special.” The Christmas Wish bags were filled with toys and basic necessities tailored to the needs and wishes of each child, including dolls, LEGO, toothbrushes and warm mittens. “We want to extend a giant Chi Miigwetch/thank you to Thunder Bay,” says John Dixon, director of Integrated Services at Dilico. “From individuals and families to workplaces, so many people have stepped up to provide support and donations for children in need. Many of the Christmas Wish bags were filled by people who have made Christmas Wish a tradition in their families for years, and we’re so grateful for this ongoing generosity.” One unnamed individual shared her story of tradition with the Christmas Wish Campaign, noting that she had always wanted a jewelry box with a lid that opened to a dancing ballerina when she was a little girl. “As a family tradition, we have participated in Dilico’s Christmas Wish Campaign for years and we always choose the profile of a little girl,” she says. “Together, we enjoy shopping for the items on her wish list and imagining her joy as she opens her gifts on Christmas morning, including her very own jewelry box with a dancing ballerina.” The Christmas Wish Campaign was launched on Nov. 17 at Creekside Nursery and Garden Centre’s Christmas Market in Thunder Bay with an option for participants to add a copy of Dilico’s new book, How I Found My Voice, which is about a young Indigenous person searching for the courage to speak up, to a Christmas Wish bag.Featured In Slider: yesAuthor: Rick GarrickDate Published: Wednesday, December 21, 2022 - 02:55

  • DGC Narcisse highlights importance of Treaties Recognition Week
    by chrisk on November 25, 2022 at 3:32 pm

    Deputy Grand Chief Bobby Narcisse delivered a presentation on how treaties have impacted First Nations people during a Treaties Recognition Week talk at Confederation College in Thunder Bay. Photo by Rick Garrick. Deputy Grand Chief Bobby Narcisse highlighted how treaties have impacted First Nations people during his Treaties Recognition Week talk on Nov. 11 at Confederation College in Thunder Bay. “We all are treaty people, but I’m here to speak to you about the true history of this country and how this country called Canada was formed on a litany of broken legal agreements, broken promises and mistruths and how this has caused two Canadas to exist,” Narcisse says. “One Canada tells itself that it is a model to the outside world when it comes to human rights and a wealth of opportunities granted to all who live within its borders, from universal health care to free public education, access to the job market, the right to vote and chase the dream of home ownership and acquiring various things like an SUV or a boat and motor.” Narcisse says this is not the Canada that many First Nations people have experienced across Treaty 5 and Treaty 9, which cover the northern two-thirds of Ontario. “Our ancestors signed those treaties with the Crown, with the government of Canada and even with Ontario,” Narcisse says. “We entered into these treaties with the newcomers, the settlers in absolute and good faith. Back then we’ve heard stories and historical references where we lived on helping each other, assisting the newcomers. They thought this would be the same with us, that they’d create a society where we would all prosper jointly.” Narcisse says Canada has broken every treaty that it signed with First Nations people. “As a result our children do not have the same rights, privileges and freedoms as non-Indigenous students,” Narcisse says. “One of my portfolios is child welfare — we are constantly working with our First Nations families and children to get them equitable services at the community level.” Narcisse says the Royal Proclamation issued by King George III in 1763 contained provisions to recognize and protect land rights, including title of Indigenous nations. “The Proclamation established protocols for dealing with Indigenous nations and set up a treaty process which required there be consent between two parties, that compensation be provided for any lands or resources secured by the Crown,” Narcisse says. Narcisse says they often get questions about what treaties are. “Some people don’t think treaties are real, they don’t think they mean the same as laws but that’s not true,” Narcisse says. “Treaties are a formal agreement between two or more nations, treaties between Indigenous people and the Crown are solemn agreements that set out promises, obligations and benefits for both parties.” Narcisse says First Nations people entered into treaties with the understanding that both sides would benefit. “This hasn’t happened yet, there’s inroads going into that but it really hasn’t happened,” Narcisse says. “People in general need to be educated about the true history of this country.” Narcisse says Treaty 5 and Treaty 9 are among about 70 historic treaties recognized by the Crown. “Historic treaties combined with policies such as the Indian Act have served to control … and diminish our peoples, move us off the land so others could come and reap the rewards for these lands of plenty that we have,” Narcisse says. “In doing so, these treaties have penned our peoples into tiny tracts of land where our peoples could not prosper as well as non-First Nations people coming from Europe and the British Isles.” Narcisse says the First Nation ancestors would not have signed the treaties if they knew that would happen. “The number one goal (of our First Nations) was to protect our families, our children, our land and our ways of life,” Narcisse says. “Our ancestors believed and agreed to share the lands and resources and to live peacefully and coexist together. We never gave rights to the land away.” Narcisse says the first promise of the treaty was broken from the start, that all those who signed the treaty would physically ratify it once it was written up. “Anishinabek and Mushkegowuk peoples never actually physically saw and ratified the treaty again,” Narcisse says. Narcisse adds that widespread public education was promised under the treaty. “But instead of fully functional proper schools in our communities, a side deal was made with a religious order to establish and run Indian residential schools all throughout our lands and territory,” Narcisse says. “These schools in no way honoured the spirit and intention of the treaties our people signed, quite the opposite.” Narcisse says First Nations people were also shut out of resource extraction and sharing the wealth of the land and many business developments in the north and their voices have consistently been ignored at negotiating tables. “This has prevented us from exercising legal rights to be the stewards of the land and making more sustainable development happen in northern Ontario, especially within our treaty areas,” Narcisse says. “There is no way our forefathers would have signed an agreement that allowed this or kept our people shut out of development, leaving us as paupers in our own land, unable to create and live in stable, clean affordable housing within our communities.”Featured In Slider: yesAuthor: Rick GarrickDate Published: Friday, November 25, 2022 - 22:30

  • Huge turnout in support of the second annual “Every Child Matters” Powwow
    by chrisk on October 3, 2022 at 6:00 pm

    Photo by Xavier Kataquapit Some of the Grand Entry participants for the Second Annual “Every Child Matters” Pow Wow in Kirkland Lake on September 30 are from L-R: Head Male Dancer George Rose, Gavin Gill, Matachewan FN youth; Bertha Cormier, Executive Director of Keepers Of The Circle and Councillor Tom Fox, Matachewan FN. Northern Ontario featured the hugely successful Second Annual “Every Child Matters” Pow Wow in Kirkland Lake on September 30. The event which was held at Civic Park brought in over 2,000 visitors from Northeastern Ontario including the participation of children from schools from Kirkland Lake, Englehart and Temiskaming Shores. The gathering also brought performers, drummers and singers from across the north and Quebec. As part of the day’s commemoration of the National Day of Truth and Reconciliation and acknowledgement of the residential school era, lead male dancer George Rose of Attawapiskat First Nation gave an emotional speech in Cree and English. He is a survivor of the notorious St Anne’s residential school in Fort Albany on the James Bay coast which he attended for seven years as a child in the late 1960s. “I remember my treatment and the abuse I suffered at this place and the hardships many others around me endured including my mother and father. It is sad for me to remember but we are finding healing, especially by connecting to our culture, by dancing, by singing and by being part of events like this surrounded by so many young people. It is love for one another across all cultures and communities that can help us and give us all hope,” explained Rose. The event was coordinated by the staff of Keepers Of The Circle led by Chelsea Daley and Brianna Julien. “This was something our people couldn’t do a long time ago but to see such a big event today makes me feel really happy. I’m thankful to our supporters for all they’ve done but we are also grateful to our Elders and for me it is especially true for my grandmother Vina Hendrix-Landry,” said Daley. Keepers Of The Circle led the organizing efforts of this event along with the support of Beaverhouse FN and Matachewan FN. “I want to thank everyone who made this event possible. My heart is full today in seeing all the orange shirts here. It’s an important reminder of why we are here and it is my hope that all these educators will be able to pass on that history to their students so that they grow to understand what happened to our people,” said Berther Cormier, Executive Director of Keepers of the Circle. First Nation leadership was also in attendance. “The sea of orange shirts and colours everywhere is very heart warming. It’s important for us to share the history of the residential school era with everyone, especially to young generations in an appropriate manner because it will bring about a more positive change for the country in the future,” commented Chief Wayne Wabie, Beaverhouse FN. The event featured many vendors who sold traditional arts, crafts and food for visitors. “This is a beautiful event for everyone and it shows what our people can accomplish when we all work together. It also shows how important today’s commemoration means to everyone and how we can share and pass on that history so that everyone can understand what happened to our communities,” said Councillor Tom Fox, Matachewan FN. Many local and regional dignitaries took part in the event including Charlie Angus, Member of Parliament for Timmins-James Bay; Kirkland Lake Mayor Pat Kiely and Member of Provincial Parliament John Vanthof. “It was great to see everyone here today and to see all these young people taking part in this event. This Pow Wow and today’s national day of remembrance is important because it recognizes not just the Indigenous children that were lost in the residential school era but also the Indigenous children that were denied their basic rights right up until today. It’s important for us to understand this history and the ongoing struggle to make things right” said Angus. The day’s event was started in the morning with an opening prayer by Elder Vina Hendrix-Landry of Matachewan FN. A Grand Entry of flag bearers included Bertha Cormier, Matachewan Councillor Tom Fox, Beaverhouse FN Chief Wayne Wabie, Lead Male Dancer George Rose, Matachewan FN youth Gavin Gill, Mike Clark, Elder Ed Wabie, Lorette McKnight and the Town of Kirkland Lake Mayor Pat Kiely and Councillor Lad Shaba. Traditional performances were led by Head Male dancer George Rose and Head Female dancer Holly Buffalo Rodrique of Matachewan FN. The Pow Wow Master of Ceremonies was Kyle Chevier and Arena Director was Nate McMartin. The Host Drum for the event was Iron Stone Drum Group from Temiskaming First Nation, Quebec which included drummers Wayne McKenzie, Cody Sackaney, Evan Polsen, Justin Polsen and Jessie Chaput. The co-Host Drum was One Nation Drum Group from Temiskaming First Nation, Quebec which included drummers Roy Paul, Lindsay Cote, Dave Stanger and Alex Armstrong. The Pow Wow was made possible with main sponsorship support of Agnico Eagle Mine, Beaverhouse FN, Metis Nation of Ontario, Matachewan First Nation and Mino M’Shki-ki Health Team. The event was also supported by Creative Designs, Northern Lights Computing, Dr. Yades Optometrist, Kirkland Lake Community Complex, The Federal Tavern, Vienna’s Bar And Grill, The Great Outdoor Centre, BDR Drug Mart, Lakeshore Motors, Canadian Tire, RBC Bank, TD Bank, Shear Beauty Hairstyling, Plum Blossom Bakery, Northern Bargains and Alamos Gold.Featured In Slider: yesAuthor: Xavier KataquapitDate Published: Tuesday, October 4, 2022 - 00:57

  • Leaders want financial investment after the Pope’s visit
    by chrisk on August 18, 2022 at 3:33 pm

    Pope Francis spoke about asking for forgiveness in the name of the church during his six-day “penitential pilgrimage” to Canada. He also expressed his indignation and shame about the evil perpetrated in Catholic Church residential schools. Photos by George Nakogee. Grand Chief Derek Fox stressed how First Nation leaders are calling for a financial investment after Pope Francis made his residential school apology during his six-day “penitential pilgrimage” to Canada. “One of the things that was said to me was there should be a financial investment behind that apology, for example language,” Fox says on the first day of the Keewaywin Conference, held Aug. 9-11 in Timmins. “They helped take the language from us, why don’t they invest in the language, why don’t they throw a couple of million (dollars) at NAN (Nishnawbe Aski Nation) to help us with the language strategy, why don’t they invest in our school boards, put it into the curriculum to ensure that those things are not lost.” Pope Francis spoke about asking for forgiveness in the name of the church during his July 24-29 “penitential pilgrimage” at an Aug. 3 General Audience at the Vatican. “It was unlike other journeys, in fact the main motivation was to meet the Indigenous peoples to express to them my closeness and my sorrow, closeness of the church and my sorrow and to ask forgiveness for the harm done to them by those Christians, including many Catholics, who in the past collaborated in the forced assimilation and enfranchisement policies of the governments of the time,” the Pope says, as translated into English during the General Audience. “An in-depth study shows that on the one hand some men and women of the church were among the most decisive and courageous supporters of the dignity of the Indigenous peoples, coming to their defence and contributing to raising awareness of their languages, but on the other hand there was unfortunately no shortage of those who participated in programs that today we understand is unacceptable and contrary to the gospel, and for this I went to ask for forgiveness in the name of the church.” The Pope had expressed his indignation and shame about the evil perpetrated in Catholic Church residential schools on the final day of his “penitential pilgrimage” to listen to, dialogue with and apologize to Indigenous people across the country. “A short while ago I listened to several of you who were students of residential schools — I thank you for having had the courage to tell your stories and to share your great suffering that I could not imagine,” the Pope says, as translated into English during his July 29 visit to Iqaluit, Nunavut. “This only renewed in me the indignation and shame I have felt for months. Today too, in this place, I want to tell you how very sorry I am and to ask for forgiveness for the evil perpetrated by not a few Catholics who in these schools contributed to the policies of cultural assimilation and enfranchisement.” The Pope stressed the testimony of an Elder who spoke about the beautiful spirit that reigned in Indigenous families before the advent of the residential school system. “He compared those days when grandparents, parents and children were harmoniously together to springtime, when young birds chirp happily around their mother,” the Pope says. “But suddenly, he said, the singing stopped, families were broken up and the little ones were taken far away from home. Winter fell over everything.” The Pope says stories such as the one shared by the Elder not only cause pain, they also create scandal. “All the more so if we compare them with the word of God and its commandment, honour your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land which the lord your God gives you,” the Pope says. “That possibility did not exist for many of your families, it vanished when children were separated from their parents and their own nation was perceived as dangerous and foreign.” The Pope says those forced assimilations evoke a biblical story about the just man Naboth, who refused to give the vineyard he inherited from his ancestors to those in power, who were willing to use every means to snatch it from him. “And we think too of the forceful words of Jesus about those who scandalize or despise even one of the little ones,” the Pope says. “How evil it is to break the bonds uniting parents and children, to damage our closest relationships, to harm and scandalize the little ones.” The Pope encouraged the Inuit youth to continue listening to the Elders and to embrace their past in order to write new pages of history, and offered them three pieces of advice as an Elder brother. “The first piece of advice is keep walking upwards — you live in these vast regions of the north, may they remind you of your vocation to strive ever higher without letting yourself get dragged down by those who would have you believe that it is better to think only of yourself and to use your time solely for your leisure and your interests,” the Pope says. “Don’t think that life’s great dreams are as unattainable as the sky above. No, you were made to fly, to embrace the courage of truth and the beauty of justice, to elevate your moral temper, to be compassionate, to serve others and to build relationships, to sow seeds of peace and loving care wherever you are, to ignite the enthusiasm of those all around you, to keep pressing forward and to not flatten everything out.” The Pope’s second piece of advice was to come to the light. “The third piece of advice, be part of a team,” the Pope says. The Pope’s visit included a meeting with Indigenous people at the former Ermineskin residential school, in Maskwacis, Alberta and a meeting with Indigenous people and the parish community at the Sacred Heart Church of the First Peoples, in Edmonton on July 25; a Holy Mass at Commonwealth Stadium, in Edmonton and a Pilgrimage to the site of Lac Ste. Anne and Liturgy of the Word at Lac Ste. Anne, Alberta on July 26; a visit with state officials and public address at the Citadelle de Québec/Plains of Abraham, Quebec on July 27; and a Holy Mass at the National Shrine of Ste. Anne de Beaupré at Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupré, Quebec and a Vespers with bishops, priests, deacons, consecrated persons, seminarians and pastoral workers at the Cathedral-Basilica of Notre-Dame de Québec in Quebec City on July 28.Featured In Slider: yesAuthor: Rick GarrickDate Published: Thursday, August 18, 2022 - 22:30

  • Award winning journalist Jody Porter passes
    by chrisk on August 18, 2022 at 3:29 pm

    The late Jody Porter, a former Wawatay News editor and CBC Thunder Bay senior reporter, was recognized with the Anishinabek Nation’s Debwewin Citation in 2013. Wawatay News archive photo. Former Wawatay News editor and CBC Thunder Bay senior reporter Jody Porter was remembered for her award-winning journalism on Indigenous and social justice issues after she passed on July 19. Porter’s awards included the Radio Television Digital News Association’s 2011 Adrienne Clarkson Award for diversity and the Anishinabek Nation’s 2013 Debwewin Citation, which was launched in 2002 to honour excellence in storytelling about Indigenous issues. “When we started the Debwewin Citations just about 20 years ago now, it was exactly with people in mind like Jody Porter, people who whether they were Indigenous or not had dedicated their important writing work or journalism or storytelling about Indigenous peoples and issues,” says Maurice Switzer, former communications director at Anishinabek Nation and Mississaugas of Alderville citizen. “Jody certainly was an ally of Indigenous people — she cared very deeply about the Indigenous people she met.” Switzer says Porter was “way ahead of her time” in the reporting she did on Indigenous issues such as the Seven Youth Inquest, which looked into the deaths of seven Nishnawbe Aski Nation (NAN) high school students who died while pursuing their secondary school education goals in Thunder Bay. “We’re going to miss her, she’s a real role model for people to follow,” Switzer says. “And she was a community leader in every sense of the word. Our main thoughts right now are with her family — we know they are going to miss her but they can be really proud of the contributions she made in her relatively few years on this planet.” Grand Chief Derek Fox, on behalf of the NAN Executive Council, says Porter was “relentless in her pursuit of truth and accountability.” “She produced award-winning journalism that revealed injustices faced by First Nations and gave a voice to people who did not have one,” Fox says. “Her exemplary reporting was highlighted during the 2015 inquest into the death of seven NAN youth, which was followed Canada-wide. She presented complex and painful issues with truth, accuracy and compassion.” Fox says Porter’s “unflinching work” presented the tragic circumstances around the deaths of the seven NAN youth, Jethro Anderson in 2000, Curran Strang in 2005, Paul Panacheese in 2006, Robyn Harper in 2007, Reggie Bushie in 2007, Kyle Morrisseau in 2009 and Jordan Wabasse in 2011, and illuminated the challenges faced by First Nations youth while pursuing their education. “During the Seven Youth Inquest her reporting reframed the issues, highlighting deficiencies in police investigations, the resistance of the coroner’s office to investigate and the broader issue of racism in Thunder Bay,” Fox says. “This was not always popular, but Jody had the courage to question the roles and responsibilities of the institutions that played critical roles in the lives of these young people.” Porter was also recognized with Massey College’s Clarkson Laureateship in Public Service in 2015 for her work in connecting Indigenous and northern communities through her reporting, including the radio/social media project Common Ground Café. “Jody’s integrity and professionalism were matched only by her caring and compassion,” Fox says. “We give thanks for her life, and our prayers are with her family, friends and colleagues.” Porter was also the only person to be recognized with both the Anishinabek Nation’s honourable Debwewin Citation mention, which she received in 2005, and the Debwewin Citation. A Centennial College journalism graduate, Porter first worked as a journalist in the Northwest Territories before moving to Sioux Lookout in 1998 to continue her journalism career with Wawatay News. She later moved to Thunder Bay in 2000 to work with CBC Thunder Bay.Featured In Slider: noAuthor: Rick GarrickDate Published: Thursday, August 18, 2022 - 22:27

  • 2022 Keewaywin award winners
    by chrisk on August 12, 2022 at 5:15 pm

    Former grand chiefs Wally McKay, Bentley Cheechoo, Stan Beardy and Alvin Fiddler were honoured for their outstanding leadership and dedication at the Keewaywin Awards ceremony on Aug. 10. NAN Elder Helen Cromarty accepted the award on behalf of her late husband Dennis Cromarty and Jon Rudy accepted the award on behalf of his late father Frank Beardy. Photo from NAN Facebook page. Nishnawbe Aski Nation (NAN) recognized the outstanding contributions of six citizens and two groups during the 2022 Keewaywin Awards ceremony on the second day of the Keewaywin Conference, held Aug. 9-11 in Timmins. “We are pleased to congratulate this year’s recipients and we are proud to honour our past grand chiefs for their tireless efforts and significant contributions to our nation,” says Grand Chief Derek Fox. “We acknowledge the outstanding accomplishments and commitments they have made to improving the lives of our people and strengthening our communities. It is important that we take time when we gather to recognize the contributions that our leaders and citizens make to our communities and celebrate their success. Their dedication and accomplishments are inspiring.” The Elder Recognition Award was presented to Delores McKay, Mattagami, who has worked at many places across the country, including currently as the executive director of the Parry Sound Friendship Centre and previously as executive director at the Native Women’s Association, Sheshegwaning First Nation and Mattagami. She is also a member of the Three Fires Midewiwin Lodge. The Woman Award was presented to Vanessa Genier, Missanabie Cree, who is running for councillor in her community and previously started a project that became the non-profit organization Quilts for Survivors, which presents residential school survivors with quilts to honour their journey. She shares her love of quilting and her education in business with others through Quilts for Survivors. The Emile Nakogee Award for Outstanding Leadership was presented to Cat Lake Chief Russell Wesley, who was recently elected for a second straight term and was previously chief from 2013-2015. He has focused on two main initiatives, mental health and addictions and natural resources, during his terms as chief, and during his 40-plus year career in senior management roles he was an active contributor to the development of intergovernmental and government policies at the federal and provincial levels including Indigenous Services Canada, First Nation and Indigenous Health Canada, the Ontario Ministries of Aboriginal Affairs and Natural Resources and Forestry and Northern Development. The Youth Leadership/Community Involvement Award was presented to Jamal Gagnon, Taykwa Tagamou, a youth councillor who has worked to launch a Youth Council in his community and was able to raise $70,000 for a budget. He hopes the Youth Council will provide youth with a voice, input on community matters and inspire more youth participation. The Youth Academic Award was presented to Logan Metatawabin, Kashechewan, who recently graduated from Kapuskasing District High School with four bursaries and plans to attend Cambrian College’s two-year Power Engineering Technician program this fall. His goals are to work as a stationary engineer in nuclear energy. The NAN Staff Award was presented to Stewart Kamenawatamin, Bearskin Lake, who was quick to throw in his hat to assist in the First Nation immunization project and works very hard to support his people. He is a dedicated family man who lives the Seven Grandfather Teachings in his everyday life and work. The Youth Outstanding Service Award was presented to the Sandy Lake Patrol, whose three members, Grace Goodman, Simeon Kakepetum and Lenny Anishninabie, saved a young person at risk. The Sandy Lake Patrol provides a street patrol in the seven different areas of Sandy Lake. The Youth Community Involvement Award was presented to the North Caribou Lake Youth Council for being active in their roles and vocal in advocating for the children and youth to bring programming and activities to their peers. Their goal as a Youth Council is to bring healing in the areas of mental, emotional, physical and spiritual healing. All of the former Grand Council Treaty No. 9 and NAN grand chiefs were honoured for their outstanding leadership and dedication, including Andrew Rickard, 1973-77 with Grand Council Treaty No. 9 and 1978-1979 with NAN; Dennis Cromarty, 1980-1981 and 1984-1988; Wally McKay, 1981-1983; Frank Beardy, 1983-1984; Bentley Cheechoo, 1988-1994; Charles Fox, 1994-2000; Stan Beardy, 2000-2012; Harvey Yesno, 2012-2015; and Alvin Fiddler, 2015-2021.Featured In Slider: yesAuthor: Rick GarrickDate Published: Saturday, August 13, 2022 - 00:13

  • Fifteen Annual Wabun Youth Gathering Provides Traditional Teachings
    by chrisk on July 18, 2022 at 7:42 pm

    Wabun Youth Gathering celebrated its 15th year in an event that drew over 70 Indigenous youth participants on the shores of Lake Mattagami. Here we see some of the group participants, Elders, organizers and chaperones. Photo by Xavier Kataquapit. The 15th Annual Wabun Youth Gathering was held in Mattagami First Nation in a week long outdoor event from July 11 to 15 for over 70 Indigenous youth on the shores of Lake Mattagami. The event was organized by the Wabun Tribal Council Health Department with the support of the tribal council’s First Nations. “This is an important annual event for our Wabun Youth as it gives them an opportunity to grow and stay connected to other Indigenous youth in the Wabun territory. They get to learn so much from their Elders and the traditional people that come to share their knowledge and teachings. It’s also a fun time for our young people to get together and be on the land, especially after two years of pandemic isolation,” commented Josee Forget, Wabun Regional Crisis Coordinator and event organizer. Youth took part in traditional teachings as well as fun activities including scavenger hunts, canoeing events, group activities and plenty of opportunities for swimming on Lake Mattagami next to a well maintained natural sand beach. “I’m happy to be here with so many people and to have a good time with them. It makes me feel good to know more about my culture and my people and to be out here on the land with everyone,” said 17 year old Shakira Quakegesic of Brunswick House FN. Elders, facilitators and traditional knowledge keepers were on hand to provide teachings and lessons to youth on the Seven Grandfather Teachings, cultural story telling, drum making, soap stone carving and dream catcher crafting. “When I see these young people on the water and in the canoes, it brings back a lot of memories of when I grew up. My Elders watched over me and my friends when we played by the water in the summer time and there was great comfort in knowing that they were there for us. It is the same now and it makes me happy to be here to witness that again,” said Elder Vina Hendrix. Several Wabun Elders made themselves available during the week. Local Mattagami FN Elder Leonard Naveau was on hand to share his vast knowledge of traditional hunting and trapping culture. Other Wabun Elders also included Elders Vina Hendrix of Matachewan FN and Mattagami FN Elders Clara Prince, Walter Naveau, Morris Naveau and Halina Naveau. Youth were also mentored and supported by a group of adult Chaperones from the Wabun First Nations. Meals and snacks were organized and led by Mattagami FN citizens Gary and Darlene Naveau. “This annual gathering is very important for our children because it brings them closer to the land, their Elders and their culture. My grandchildren are taking part in this event and it makes me happy to see all these youth coming together as a community,” explained Mattagami FN Chief Chad Boissoneau. Youth were accommodated at the event in a camp ground next to the beach area with tents. “It’s great to see our youth taking part in a more land based event on our people’s traditional lands. This is where we all grew up and this is who we are. The closer we can keep our children to the land, the brighter their future will be,” commented Matachewan FN Chief Alex ‘Sonny’ Batisse. Traditional Teacher Ocheekoosh / Sam St. Pierre of Atikameksheng Anishnawbek First Nation provided hands on teaching and ceremonies. She was assisted in these teachings by Mattagami FN citizens Faye Naveau and Nathan Naveau, who are both traditional teachers, drummers and singers. There was a ceremonial tipi with a sacred fire that was kept alive during the entire week by local volunteers led by Fire Keeper Kelly Naveau. This year’s event also marked the retirement of long time Wabun Health Director Jean Lemieux, a citizen of Matachewan FN. She was instrumental in launching this annual event first held in Mattagami FN in the summer of 2007. “It’s so very important to have events like this for our Indigenous youth. So much was taken away from our people in the past due to government polices like the residential school system or the sixties scoop so we have to work hard to keep our young people connected to their traditional past. I am so happy and thankful for all the support I’ve received from our citizens, Wabun Executive Director Jason Batise, past Director Shawn Batise and all our leaders over the past 31 years of my career. I wish them to continue to build on the programs we’ve developed and to grow even stronger in improving our communities for our youth and future generations,” said Jean Lemieux, Wabun Health Director. Eileen Boissoneau, Mattagami Health Director shared her own words of praise and well wishes for Lemieux on her retirement. “We really appreciate all the work that Jean has done for our people and our communities for so many years. She has helped our First Nations in starting so many gatherings and events that have kept all our Wabun citizens and health care workers connected. We will certainly miss her at the office and we wish her all the best,” said Boissoneau. The Wabun Youth Gathering originated through the vision and dream of Wabun Elder Thomas Saunders of Brunswick House FN who lobbied for a youth gathering. Sadly, he passed on before his dream came to be however Lemieux fulfilled a promise to him and developed the gathering. Wabun Tribal Council is a regional territorial organization which represents the six First Nation communities of Beaverhouse, Brunswick House, Chapleau Ojibwe, Flying Post, Matachewan and Mattagami in Northeastern Ontario and it is directed by its respective Chiefs.Featured In Slider: yesAuthor: Xavier KataquapitDate Published: Tuesday, July 19, 2022 - 02:38

  • National Assembly of Remote Communities holds first meeting
    by chrisk on June 20, 2022 at 6:46 pm

    Deputy Grand Chief Bobby Narcisse speaks about severe gaps in services for children, youth and families in remote First Nation communities during the National Assembly of Remote Communities, held May 31-June 2 in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. (Screenshot) Nishnawbe Aski Nation leaders highlighted the importance of working with leaders from other remote communities on northern remote issues during the initial meeting of the National Assembly of Remote Communities, which was formed in 2021. The May 31-June 2 meeting was co-hosted by Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations (FSIN) First Vice Chief David Pratt and Deputy Grand Chief Bobby Narcisse in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. “I’m very excited about this endeavour with FSIN and the many other regions that are getting together for the sake of our remote communities,” says Grand Chief Derek Fox via the Zoom virtual platform. “For those who don’t know what it’s like to live in the remote north … they endure the high cost of living, the cost of fuel, delivering any kind of services to say Neskantaga or Bearskin Lake. These are things that are often not taken into account when it comes to announcements of funding and ensuring that First Nations get the resources they need.” Narcisse says the leaders want to bring more attention to the plight of remote communities and to identify the severe gaps in services that are prevalent amongst children, youth and families. “Many of our communities within the remote north sit on very rich resource lands,” Narcisse says. “Our children, youth and families should be enjoying a quality of life that is exceeding what they (have) right now.” Deputy Grand Chief Victor Linklater says it is important to keep speaking up because “our children are precious.” “We want them educated, we want them strong, we want them powerful, we want them healthy, so we need to work together,” Linklater says. “It’s nice to see a good mixture of Elders, knowledge keepers, youth, leadership, technical people — together we can do great things.” Mushkegowuk Council Deputy Grand Chief Rebecca Friday says it is important to fight for the children, noting that the current generation of children is facing a loss of their language. “The grandparents can’t understand their … great great grandchildren — it’s sad to see that because we need to speak in our language,” Friday says. “That’s why I spoke (Mushkegomowin) in my opening remarks. I’m trying my best to speak my language the way I was taught. All of my kids speak (Mushkegomowin), but my grandchildren don’t.” Theresa Sutherland, member of the NAN Women’s Council and Fort Albany citizen, says she has seen how the lack of mental health resources and services impacts First Nations women and by extension their communities. “While there are a handful of community-based treatment or land-based detox programs scattered throughout the NAN territory, they are underfunded and under resourced,” Sutherland says. “We need holistically comprehensive addictions treatment programs in every community. Women are the heart of our families, the heart of our communities, they can’t be expected to leave for the extended time needed to detox, then enter treatment and then move into an aftercare plan.” Ashley Bach, member of the NAN Oshkaatisak Council and Mishkeegogamang citizen, says she didn’t have an opportunity to grow up in her community due to funding inequities in rural and remote communities, noting she was apprehended at birth and adopted by a non-Native family in B.C. when she was five-years-old. “We feel at this present time there is no possible means of providing the special needs required by this child and there is simply no resources or facilities in our community that would enable this child to receive the best care possible,” Bach says, quoting a letter written by current Mishkeegogamang Chief David Masakeyash, who was a councillor at the time. “In that letter, that’s where they had to sign away saying that a family outside that wasn’t First Nation could adopt me and take care of me because they didn’t have those resources to do it themselves.” The National Assembly of Remote Communities was scheduled to focus on three major themes: the Journeys of Remote Communities; the Science of Measuring Remoteness; and Community Vulnerabilities Respecting Settlement Payouts. “Canada has failed our youth and families for decades, but I am encouraged that we now have a healing path forward,” Narcisse says. “The launch of the National Assembly of Remote Communities is an important step on our journey of long-term reform that will be First Nations led, as treaty and Indigenous rights holders, and based on our inherent authority to care for our children. I look forward to taking this historic step with our brothers and sisters from many nations.” Pratt says the National Assembly of Remote Communities was created by First Nations for First Nations. “This assembly will address the serious funding issues our northern and remote nations face daily and address those areas where investments are critically needed,” Pratt says. “Our First Nations children are our future, and we need to create a better path forward for them. This is the first step in that process.”Featured In Slider: noAuthor: Rick GarrickDate Published: Tuesday, June 21, 2022 - 01:44

  • NAN commemorates Orange Shirt Day
    by chrisk on September 30, 2021 at 7:32 pm

    Members of the Nishnawbe Aski Nation (NAN) Executive Council will honour Indian Residential School Survivors, their families, and all the children who didn’t return home during Orange Shirt Day and National Day for Truth and Reconciliation events in Thunder Bay and Ottawa today. “Many people will come together today to acknowledge the truth behind the Indian Residential School experience. We will grieve for the youth who never made it home and honour the healing journeys of Survivors and their families as more unmarked gravesites are discovered across the country,” said Deputy Grand Chief Anna Betty Achneepineskum. “We will do everything possible to support our communities and ensure that any approach developed for the identification and recovery of our children will be led by Survivors and their families. We are committed to supporting Survivors, their families, and all NAN First Nations throughout the difficult work to come.” The discovery of 215 unmarked graves at the former Kamloops Indian Residential School ignited calls for action and full-scale investigations and searches of former Residential School sites. Within the NAN territory, there were nine Residential Schools attended by First Nations children. Deputy Grand Chief Achneepineskum will join with Survivors, their families, and members of the public for NAN’s Orange Shirt Day commemoration on the grounds of Pope John Paul II Senior Elementary School in Thunder Bay at 11 a.m. NAN’s interactive community-building display will be on display while a Sacred Fire burns. This 16-panel display highlights Treaty relationships and dispels common myths and misconceptions about Indigenous Peoples. In Ottawa, Deputy Grand Chief Victor Linklater and Deputy Grand Chief Bobby Narcisse will attend National Day of Remembrance events on Parliament Hill and a Spirt Walk to Confederation Park. They will join with Residential School Survivors from across NAN territory, including members of the St. Anne’s Residential School Survivor’s Peetabeck Keway Keykaywin Association, who are organizing a teepee and pipe ceremony. Deputy Grand Chiefs Linklater and Narcisse will also visit the Beechwood National Memorial Center’s Sacred Space for the first public display of 57,000 tiles made by youth from across Canada to honour those who attended residential schools as part of the Project of Heart education program.Featured In Slider: yesAuthor: Wawatay NewsDate Published: Friday, October 1, 2021 - 02:28

  • Liberals re-elected as minority government
    by chrisk on September 21, 2021 at 3:29 pm

    Justin Trudeau and the Liberal party were re-elected to form another minority government on September 20. "Thank you, Canada — for casting your vote, for putting your trust in the Liberal team, for choosing a brighter future. We're going to finish the fight against COVID. And we're going to move Canada forward. For everyone," the re-elected Prime Minister twitted out early Tuesday morning. This will be Trudeau's third term as Prime Minister of Canada.Featured In Slider: yesAuthor: Wawatay NewsDate Published: Tuesday, September 21, 2021 - 22:25


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