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Fort William First Nation celebrates National Indigenous Peoples Day

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Federal NDP leader Jagmeet Singh and provincial NDP deputy leader Sol Mamakwa danced during a song at the National Indigenous Peoples Day Pow Wow on Anemki Wajiw in Fort William.

By Rick Garrick

FORT WILLIAM FIRST NATION — The National Indigenous Peoples Day (NIPD) Pow Wow on Anemki Wajiw in Fort William included a dance and visit with the drummers by federal New Democratic Party (NDP) leader Jagmeet Singh and provincial NDP deputy leader Sol Mamakwa.

“I’m not sure about anything else, but people say I have good rhythm,” Singh says. “I’ll take that.”

Singh says he had wanted to celebrate NIPD in community this year and was honoured to accept an invitation to attend the celebration in Fort William.

“Today is a day of celebration, celebrating Indigenous culture, language, music, dance, but also, I feel like just as important a day to acknowledge the injustice against Indigenous people, historic and ongoing, and a day to commit towards fixing those problems, remedying the injustice, making sure the communities have clean drinking water, good housing and economic development — that is shared prosperity,” Singh says, noting that he had a warm reception from people at Anemki Wajiw. “But there’s also people concerned about their communities, clean drinking water, housing issues, making sure that Indigenous people are treated as partners in a collaborative relationship. There were a lot of really good ideas and good values, people worried about Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls and a lack of action there, so I let people know I’m an ally, I will fight for you and raise your voice in Ottawa.”

Mamakwa, MPP for Kiiwetinoong, located in Northern Ontario, says it is important to celebrate the history, languages, and ways of life of First Nations people.

“But there is also the fact that there are struggles that we still face today, boil water advisories, the Indian Residential School, that we have to face the denialism that there are no unmarked graves on those former Residential School sites,” Mamakwa says. “I was in Kasabonika and Pikangikum recently and they are faced with a mental health crisis, suicide crisis, housing crisis. We have to acknowledge those as well, but again, we are strong, we are resilient.”

Fort William Chief Michele Solomon says Singh and Mamakwa were among a group of politicians in attendance at NIPD.

“There were a lot of dignitaries that came to celebrate this day and of course, so many dancers and drummers,” Solomon says, noting that Fort William is part of the NIPD committee in Thunder Bay. “We are a partner, so it’s really nice that we could offer our beautiful sacred mountain (Anemki Wajiw) for this important event. The weather is beautiful and the turnout is amazing, there’s so many people, and I think it’s wonderful.”

Fort William Councillor Bess Legarde, a Jingle Dress dancer, says it was awesome to see Singh at NIPD.

“It’s super nice to see [him] participating in such an intimate level with the community,” Legarde says. “It’s really nice to see him honour National Indigenous Peoples Day and be here to celebrate with us.”

Fort William Elder Sheila DeCorte, spiritual advisor at NIPD, says she hopes the politicians heard her speak about the importance of water at NIPD.

“I hope that some of them listened to me and heard me when I shared about the water, that they continue to work towards lifting every boil water advisory in every First Nation community,” DeCorte says. “Enough is enough, water is a given human right and everybody should have water.”

As of June 21, there were 20 remaining long-term drinking water advisories in 19 First Nations in Ontario, including Chippewas of Georgina Island and Chippewas of the Thames, with 74 long-term drinking water advisories lifted, according to the federal government’s website.

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Lead Facilitator – Circle Process

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Rice will serve as a mentor for program featuring budding Indigenous writers

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By Sam Laskaris SUDBURY – When Anishinabek writer Waubgeshig Rice found out he had a chance to serve as a mentor for young Indigenous writers he jumped at the opportunity. […]

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Inherent rights highlighted at the 8th annual Anishinabek Nation Lands and Resources Forum

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By Kelly Anne Smith NORTH BAY— Concerns of climate change, extreme mining claims, and the health of the Great Lakes were heard over three days at the 8th annual Anishinabek […]

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