CHIPPEWAS OF RAMA FIRST NATION – Hosted by the Anishinabek Nation 7th Generation Charity, the Lifetime Achievement Awards were held on Oct. 19 at Casino Rama in Chippewas of Rama First Nation to honour Anishinabek citizens who have made a significant contribution to their First Nation.
Some 300 people from across the Nation attended this year’s event and Anishinabek Nation Grand Council Chief Reg Niganobe presented the awards to the honourees or their families.
Jeanne Naponse – Atikameksheng Anishnawbek
Earning her Master’s Degree from Central Michigan State University, Jeanne Naponse has been involved in the field of education for the last 40 years. She served as a teacher, professor, student councillor, and education councillor in addition to an Academic Dean. She was instrumental in the development of several college diploma programs designed to address the needs of First Nations. She recognizes that education is an important tool in building stronger, healthy, and prosperous communities.
Throughout her professional career, she served on numerous boards and committees, gaining valuable knowledge, sharing her experience, and is recognized as a skilled negotiator. In her community, she served as a council member and she became the first female to be elected Chief. During her time as Chief, she was instrumental in creating the first self-government structure for Atikameksheng using the Dodem as a traditional governance model.
She is also a Knowledge Keeper and speaker of Anishinaabemowin and recognizes the importance of Elders and their knowledge in working toward the future of our communities. She is proud of her cultural teachings and traditions.
Dianne Thomas – Chippewas of Kettle & Stony Point First Nation
Dianne Thomas has been the Economic Development Officer in her community for close to 30 years and is directly responsible for much of the community’s development in terms of policy development, infrastructure, and employment and training. She has helped in the acquirement and development of numerous businesses, which has resulted in many jobs being created and is considered a “ninja master” when it comes to finding support and proposal writing.
She has shown leadership and helps guide discussions in her region through the Southern First Nations Secretariat, often leading the charge for the betterment of all member First Nations in the area.
She believes that our heritage and culture are the roots in our successes, incorporating Anishinaabe components in all activities she is involved in, writes, or develops. She has a strong belief in her identity and culture.
Ferdinand Paibomsai – Whitefish River First Nation
A committed and loyal worker, Ferdinand Paibomsai began his career in carpentry in 1966. He learned from his mentors about what it took to build quality homes from the foundation up for his community of Whitefish River First Nation. He went on to work on many projects within the community including the construction and renovation of residential buildings as well as numerous administration buildings.
Loving the trade, he wanted to teach and mentor others. Many women in the community joined a “Women in Carpentry” project, where he was able to mentor and transfer his knowledge. To this day, there are still a few of these women who work in the trade of carpentry.
As though the literal building of the community wasn’t enough, he wanted to give back in other ways as well. Learning from his best friend and mentor, he was taught the art and responsibility of becoming a cross and rough box maker for his community. In memory of the person who passed, he takes his time and creates a unique cross for the family, an important part of the grieving process.
He has since hung up the hammer, but still continues to work with wood, carving and making wooden bowls through his small business “From the Wood Pile”.
Recognized in his community as “Living the good life”, he has been presented with the Whitefish River First Nation Seven Grandfathers award. He is a respected Elder and lives his life demonstrating kindness and helping others when he can.
Jeff Naponse – Atikameksheng Anishnawbek
A retiree from the mining sector, Jeff Naponse has proudly served as band councillor in Atikameksheng, actively working with multi-levels of government, building strong relationships while fostering a healthy community.
Being a strong believer in the culture and healing, he has been an active member of the Health and Community Wellness Committee since 2018. In his role, he promotes a balanced holistic lifestyle, which includes emotional, mental, physical, and spiritual well-being in addition to cultural values and principles.
He is an avid learner and user of Anishinaabemowin, actively promoting and searching for ways to advance the language, cultural teachings, and traditions. His exemplary knowledge, skills, and dedication to his community are an inspiration to others.
Paul Henry – Kettle & Stony Point First Nation
Paul Henry dedicated his career to helping create viable opportunities for First Nations in need of economic development and capital projects.
He began his career gaining experience with Indian and Northern Affairs Canada, which led him to employment with the Ontario Native Community Branch, Tecumseh Development Corporation, and the N’Amerind Friendship Centre.
During his time with various organizations and Ministries, he was determined to ensure First Nations accessed funding that would bring economic stability and employment opportunities to the communities. He worked within his role to help gain support for various project proposals that were submitted.
In his retirement, he continues to sit on various committees within the communities to help support initiatives and is regularly called upon by local First Nations to share his knowledge in the management and economic development plans.
Harvey Petahtegoose – Atikameksheng Anishnawbek
Harvey Petahtegoose has spent the last 29 years serving his community in the role of councillor as well as a few years as Chief. He is active in his community attending various programs, community events, visiting the sacred grounds, and on occasion, lighting a fire in the Arbour.
He has accumulated a wealth of knowledge over the years and brings that with him to share when dealing with any issues the community is facing or when he is sitting on one of the various boards that he participates in.
Having older siblings being taken away to Indian Residential School, he places high importance on his family. He is very proud to be part of the Elk Clan, known for their generosity and taking good care of the people.
Kevin Mossip – Zhiibaahaasing First Nation
After initially being elected as a deputy band councillor in 1995, Kevin Mossip has been elected to and has continued this role for the past 28 years. His hard work and dedication to his community is unmatched, working tirelessly in several roles throughout the years in order to help build his community, almost literally, from the ground up.
From his start in the finance department, he found himself being part of many projects throughout the years and is still going strong to this day.
He has gained extensive knowledge over the years, having a hand in several projects, such as the Robinson Huron Treaty, Wind Farm, Manitoulin hotel Project, $10 million Tourism Project, Economic and Housing Projects, to name a few. He has also campaigned on Governance issues as well as for the Anishinabek Education System.
Through all this, he has also served as a Board Member for Waubutek Development for 15 years.
He is always available to help whenever called upon to share his knowledge and expertise wherever it’s needed. He is dedicated to his community and the future of Zhiibaahaasing First Nation.
Judy Shawnoo –Kettle & Stony Point First Nation
Judy Shawnoo has always put her community first, spending over 40 years working for her community in Health Services as well as Finance. She is known for her integrity, character, gracefulness, and poise. She has been dedicated to her community, always helping in any capacity to ensure the community received the help required in any situation. Whenever help or guidance was needed, it was commonly said “call Judy, she’ll know”. She is a role model, holding a lot of community knowledge and always working with compassion and a smile.
In her retirement, she continues to serve her community through her church outreach and work with seniors along with her role on the Kettle & Stony Point Board of Education Committee. She shares knowledge on how to put people first, walk in love and integrity.
Larry Naponse – Atikameksheng Anishnawbek
A leader in his community, Larry Naponse served as Chief as well as councillor for many years starting way back in 1967. He was always active with a goal of creating strong relationships and building a healthy community.
Over the years, he has spent much time participating in various committees and working closely with the North Shore Tribal First Nations towards achieving goals in health, education, and self-governance.
His expertise and experience working with multi-levels of government over the years has given him the knowledge to help his community continue to grow and prosper.
He is a well-respected leader in his community and proud of his Anishinaabe ways.
The Late Karen Mosko-baa – Munsee Delaware Nation
The Late Karen Mosko-baa’s goal was to attend university to complete studies and gain her teachers certificate. As we all know, sometimes life can get in the way, but after approximately eight years of trying to make it work, she finally succeeded and successfully completed her studies. She helped in the community by creating updated communications so the community could stay current and spent almost two decades teaching and revitalizing the Lunape language, in-person and online, both within her community and abroad. Her dedication, hard work, and sharing of our traditional knowledge and language will be carried for generations.
She started a YouTube page as a learning resource for her students. She always made herself available to her students for additional support. She was instrumental in teaching the younger generation about the importance of our Elders, the keepers of the knowledge, and the respect we should carry towards them.
Elizabeth Cloud – Kettle & Stony Point First Nation
Following her role as Band Manager, Elizabeth Cloud has served her community in the capacity of Band Councillor since 1996, which includes four years as Chief.
In her roles as Chief and Band Councillor, she moved the Stony Point/Camp Ipperwash file forward through negotiations, agreement, and settlement, while promoting healing among the membership.
In her over 30 years of commitment to her community, she has enthusiastically worked toward the improvement of community infrastructure, sound and transparent financial management, the development of children and family services, promotion of language and culture and sound governance that meets the needs of the citizens of her community. In all of this, she always makes sure that the people of Kettle & Stony Point are included in decision-making processes.
She is considered an excellent role model and throughout all of her accomplishments, remains humble, patient, empathetic, open to learning, and grounded in family teachings and customs.
The Late Martin Restoule-baa – Dokis First Nation
The Late Martin Restoule-baa was dedicated and committed to the success and cultural revitalization of his home; Dokis First Nation. He served as Chief of the community in the mid 1980s with a vision of financial independence for the community. He championed utilizing the sustainable water resources of the French River to generate clean hydropower. This was the beginning of the Okikendawt Hydro Project, which ultimately won the 2014 Pollution Probe Sustainability Award. It has resulted in the Okikendawt Hydro Trust.
He was instrumental in the revival of the Dokis pow wow in 2001, which is continually growing to this day. This has culminated in the pow wow grounds being named in his honour in 2022 and is now known as the Martin Restoule Memorial Traditional Grounds.
Knowing the value of culture and tradition, he was also responsible for the creation of the community Eagle Staff and shared teachings about how to care for it.
He was a talented self-taught musician and enjoyed playing music whenever the chance arose. In fact, he was inducted into the Aboriginal Country Music Hall of Fame in 2015. He was also a gifted wood carver and painter. Many of his pieces can be found in homes throughout the area in addition to the Joe Dokis Cultural Centre & Museum, another initiative that he helped bring to life.
He was a respected Elder in the community and abroad, carrying traditional knowledge, business experience, leadership skills, and authentic kindness that he generously shared with others.
Talon Chin-McGregor – Whitefish River First Nation
Whitefish River First Nation is known for honouring the people of their land who have served their community with strong cultural awareness, ethics, and pride. Talon is a great example of this.
A graduate of the nursing program at Cambrian College, his career choice was to become a community helper. After gaining knowledge as a long-term care nurse, he is now fulfilling his role as his community’s Health Nurse. He is paving the way for young Anishinaabe men who are considering a career in nursing in addition to being a role model for those who have an interest in giving back to their community.
He has recently added to his role within his community as he was elected as a band councillor. In this role, he is committed to expanding his knowledge and his service to his community.
Recently, Talon was deemed a hero as he was dining in a local restaurant when a two-year-old boy was choking to the point of unconsciousness and without hesitation, Talon stepped in and administered life-saving efforts, helping the child to regain consciousness. A true act of selfless courage in a time of crisis.
Frank Ozawagosh – Atikameksheng Anishnawbek
Frank Ozawagosh carries much of his community’s history and can always be found helping out at any ceremonies and teachings, often conducting workshops and sharing his traditional knowledge. Outside of the community, he has served as an Elder with the Northern Ontario School of Medicine University since 2005.
He exemplifies the Seven Grandfather Teachings, always doing what needs to be done in the community because it’s the right thing to do. In his spare time under his own initiative, he takes care of one of the community’s older graveyards, respecting those who have passed to the Spirit World.
He is very generous with his time and knowledge, always helping in any way he can. He lives and walks mino bimaadiziwin.
The Late Lorraine (Girlie) Commanda-baa – Nipissing First Nation
The Late Lorraine Commanda-baa was affectionately known to her family, friends, and community as ‘Girlie’. An inspiration to others, at the age of 53, she made the decision to go back to school to get her high school diploma. Following this, she went on to Lakehead University and graduated from their Indigenous Language Instructors Program. She spent the next 13 years teaching Anishinaabemowin to elementary school students.
Within her community, she was a dedicated member of the Nipissing First Nation Nishnaabemowin Translation Committee to help preserve the language, assist with translations for the Administration, as well as help young language teachers.
She attended and volunteered within her community at almost every gathering, providing fresh fish and scone as well as many laughs. She was an avid sports fan and could always be seen cheering on any team from Nipissing First Nation in any sporting events. She was a lifelong fan of her beloved Toronto Blue Jays.
Luke George Sr. – Chippewas of Kettle & Stony Point First Nation
Coming from a long line of police officers, Luke George Sr. retired from policing at the end of 2011 after over 32 years of service. Beginning his career as a First Nation police officer in Walpole Island in 1979, he eventually began working with the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) in 1988. Over the years, he was known in his community as a constable that was kind, approachable, friendly, compassionate, and a jokester. Many community members still remember the days when he would pull up alongside their road hockey game and grab a stick and join in their game of hockey, in uniform.
During his time with the OPP, he continued to work with our First Nations through media relations, and was often called upon for his guidance when there were Indigenous persons involved in a call. He also worked directly with Victim Services, teaching their new recruits to work with our First Nation people with sensitivity and respect.
One of his biggest challenges was during the Ipperwash Crisis. Being a first cousin to Dudley George, a member of Kettle & Stony Point First Nation and an OPP officer, you can bet this was a very difficult time; however, he continued to persevere.
He was gifted a drum, intended for relationship building after the Ipperwash Crisis and he has proudly travelled far and wide drumming at pow wows, graduation ceremonies, and other events. He is counted on as the family’s traditional leader, quick to share teachings, stories, songs, and ceremonies while keeping the Anishinabek ways alive.
The Late Joseph Endanawas-baa – Sheshegwaning First Nation
From serving in the US Army to being Chief of his community, the Late Joseph Endanawas-baa accomplished so much during his lifetime and touched so many lives along the way. He was known as an Indigenous advocate and well respected Elder, keeping his culture at the forefront in the work that he did throughout his lifetime. A strong advocate for language preservation, he received accolades for his role as a Knowledge Keeper of traditional teachings.
The importance of education for Anishinaabe children was a guiding force throughout his life, leading him to many roles in the area, supporting the movement for Indigenous rights and education.
His presence was felt at the countless meetings and functions he participated in over the years, always helping to continue the work for the betterment of our First Nations.
His distinguished service has been an inspiration to many; he was a true Anishinaabe warrior.
We would like to say Chi-Miigwech to The Late Joseph Endanawas-baa of Sheshegwaning First Nation for his unwavered dedication to his community and the Anishinabek Nation as a whole.
Dokis member offers thoughts of economic reconciliation at Toronto conference
By Sam Laskaris
TORONTO – Karen Restoule believes it is time for change.
Restoule, a member of Dokis First Nation in Northern Ontario, shared her thoughts of what that change could look like at the Indigenomics Bay Street conference, which concluded on Nov. 23 in Toronto.
Restoule, a strategist and communications specialist who is a vice-president with Toronto’s Crestview Strategy, was one of the presenters at the conference held at the Westin Harbour Castle.
Her presentation was titled ‘The intersection between policy and Indigenous business’.
“Indigenous Nations are ready to drive off the Indian Act superhighway,” Restoule said during her presentation.
Restoule said policy alternatives have been developed in recent years and First Nations are able to opt into these laws, making the Indian Act no longer relevant.
These policies include the First Nations Land Management Act, the First Nations Fiscal Management Act, the First Nations Commercial and Industrial Development Act, and the First Nations Good and Services Tax Act.
Restoule, however, believes it would be better to modernize all treaties, including ones that are considered “historic.”
“Currently in Canada, there are 25 modern self-governments or modern treaty agreements that include some 40 or so First Nations,” Restoule said. “And they are largely located in British Columbia, across the territories, and into northern part of Quebec. There are more than 630 First Nations across the country. That means that approximately 590 Nations remain under the Indian Act.”
Restoule believes it is time to consider renegotiating “historic treaties” like the other ones that have been modernized.
“Not only does this lead to equitable federal transfers, it gives way to agency and the right of ownership of land,” she said. “And most of all, it gives way to equitable opportunity.”
Restoule thinks the current system is broken, but she also believes what an improved system would look like needs to be sorted out before changes are made.
“In a society where so many are tearing down, we ought to consider what we can do, as citizens of this country, to build that off-ramp (on the Indian Act superhighway),” she said. “And while yes, the Indian Act does in fact need to go, it cannot be abolished in the absence of another solution.”
In large part because of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, Restoule said members of the Canadian public are familiar with some aspects of the Indian Act, established in 1876.
Restoule believes Canadians are better informed now on topics including the history of Indian Residential Schools and the Sixties Scoop.
“But there are many points about the Indian Act that Canadians are less familiar with,” she said.
For example, she mentioned movement restriction, where First Nations people were not allowed to leave the boundaries of their reserve without the permission of an Indian agent stationed there. Business and trade restrictions were also implemented whereby both internal and external business dealings required approval from the Indian agent.
“There is a commonly held stereotype that Indigenous peoples have always lived in small secluded communities, never leaving their patch of land for anything,” Restoule said. “This couldn’t be further from fact. Prior to Indigenous-European contact, Indigenous peoples throughout these lands had expansive and established trade networks that gave way to the movement of goods and the people who moved them.”
Restoule concluded her presentation by issuing a challenge to attendees.
“What are each of you prepared to do to build that off-ramp towards a better Canada for everyone?”
Noojmawing Sookatagaing Ontario Health Team a voice for citizens
By Rick Garrick
THUNDER BAY — An Indigenous Service Providers Showcase and Leadership Session was hosted by the Noojmawing Sookatagaing (Healing Working Together) Ontario Health Team (OHT) on Nov. 21 at the Victoria Inn in Thunder Bay. Noojmawing Sookatagaing OHT, which supports a continuum of care with providers in the City and District of Thunder Bay, was officially launched in October 2022 as part of the fourth cohort of Ontario Health Teams.
“The Leadership [Session] was to bring service providers within the health and social services systems together to network and collaborate and to build trusting relationships and partnerships,” says Natalie Paavola, co-chair at Noojmawing Sookatagaing OHT, director of health and wellness at Dilico Anishinabek Family Care and Namaygoosisagagun citizen. “The reaction, I’m happy to say, has been quite positive. Everybody has been just pleased with the turnout and pleased with the feedback that we’ve been given and also sharing that they are quite happy and satisfied with the opportunity to network and collaborate with each other.”
Sandi Boucher, an Indigenous keynote speaker, author of Honorary Indian and other books and Seine River citizen, delivered a presentation on I Have a Dream during the Leadership Session.
“I’m a 10-year domestic abuse survivor — there’s a time I couldn’t have sat at a table and have a conversation with one of you, and look at what I do now,” Boucher says. “I am living proof our past does not have to be our present or our future, and it has nothing to do with how someone else looks at us, it’s how we look at us, that’s what we’re focusing on today.”
Boucher says her mother used to demonstrate to her and her brother how no individual can see the whole picture by having them look around the living room while standing back-to-back.
“She pointed out to us that there was so much of the room that we could see but there was one part we were totally blind to, my brother couldn’t see the part that was directly in front of me, I couldn’t see the part that was directly in front of him,” Boucher says. “This is why we need Indigenous voices on the OHT, because only if we come together and share what we see and actually believe each other can we start to see more of the room. And you’ve heard this in meetings, someone will say, ‘It doesn’t look like that to me.’ That’s not a challenge, that’s an opportunity to see something that’s in your blind spot.”
Paavola says the Showcase was an opportunity for Indigenous service providers and Indigenous-led services within the City and District of Thunder Bay to showcase their services.
“We know that removing barriers through awareness works,” Paavola says. “When you are aware of the services that are available, you are better able to help and support community.”
Amanda Esquega, traditional care manager at Rocky Bay Child and Family Services, says the Showcase was “really informative.”
“We did a lot of networking with other [Indigenous] agencies to kind of see what is out there for our families,” Esquega says, noting that they provide an array of prevention programs. “We’ve been here (in Thunder Bay) since 2019, our satellite office is here and our main office is in Rocky Bay. We always mirror our programming, our services there and here, whatever we do.”
Tricia Mishquart, child and family services manager at Rocky Bay Child and Family Services, says they are also a voice for their citizens in both the community and Thunder Bay.
“We all know as Indigenous peoples how hard it is to reach out for additional services and supports,” Mishquart says. “That is why we are very unique in what we do for our [citizens].”
ABPA responds to the Liberal Government’s Announcement of a National Indigenous Loan Guarantee Program
ROBINSON-SUPERIOR TREATY AND FORT WILLIAM FIRST NATION TERRITORY, THUNDER BAY, ONTARIO (November 22, 2023) – This week, the Liberal government announced the next steps for a long-awaited National Indigenous Loan Guarantee Program in the next year’s federal budget. However, Indigenous leaders are still waiting for details on how the program will work and whether the program would help communities invest in the natural resource sector and facilitate equity ownership in energy, mining, forestry, and other infrastructure projects.
Following is a statement from Jason Rasevych, President of the Anishnawbe Business Professionals Association, regarding the Government of Canada’s Economic Statement and commitment to National Loan Guarantee Program for Indigenous peoples:
“Indigenous leaders have been calling on this type of program for decades. We have seen some examples in Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Ontario, but there are some limitations on what type of project can be supported including the amount and timeline. The lessons learned from the successes and challenges of the current state and forecasting the market demand should be part the new program design and seek compliance with Indigenous-led values and the principles of Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada’s Calls to Action. The announcement of a national Indigenous loan guarantee is a positive commitment that protects lenders from potential defaults and derisks the weighted average cost of capital; however, much more needs to be considered on how it prioritizes applications by geography, industry, and deals with jurisdictional dissonance across the provinces permitting regimes. We need to make sure that the human rights risks inflated by financial programs that create a larger gap between the classes of have and have not Nations are minimized and not motivated by a government – political agendas. We need the loan guarantee program to enhance and support Indigenous communities looking to participate in various sectors at different financial thresholds of resource development and ownership of enabling infrastructure like corridors and facility ownership. These projects should be assessed to consider respect for the rights-holders throughout the financing and project lifecycle, and that the proponent has achieved the free, prior, informed consent of Indigenous peoples impacted as a condition for approval. If the mandate and decision to provide the loan guarantees is supporting government or partisan plans it will create more friction for Crown-Indigenous relations, especially on how those loan guarantee decisions are being made. Indigenous communities will also need grant funding to develop the business case and economic model for the loan guarantee applications and there should be a mechanism to consider backing Indigenous-owned or operated lenders and financial institutions for a multiplier effect.”
In the past, there has been budget allocations to realize Canada’s role as a key global supplier of critical minerals for manufacturing electric vehicle batteries, solar panels, and other low-carbon technologies, which suggests dependence on intensive mineral extraction. Given Northern Ontario’s forest and mineral abundance, the region has an integral role to play in achieving these aspirations. Resource developers and governments will need to demonstrate understanding of the necessary and pivotal role that First Nations play within this paradigm given their unique rights and land title.
While the announcement could be promising as a path to reconciliation and economic growth through its support of developing strong partnerships with First Nations, success will only be realized through effective roll out and accountability. The federal government will need to demonstrate a well-executed and collaborative approach with First Nations. ABPA stands ready as an advocate for the First Nations business community and will be watching and eager to play a role in ensuring the above outlined programs meet the demands of the North.
The current ABPA Board of Directors include:
• Jason Rasevych, President, Ginoogaming First Nation
• Rachael Paquette, Vice-President, Mishkeegogamang First Nation
• Ron Marano, Vice-President, North Caribou Lake First Nation
• Jason Thompson, Secretary/Treasurer, Red Rock Indian Band
• Brian Davey, Director, Moose Cree First Nation
• Steven McCoy, Director, Garden River First Nation
• Tony Marinaro, Director, Naicatchewenin First Nation
About the ABPA:
The Anishnawbe Business Professional Association (www.anishnawbebusiness.com) is a nonprofit, member-based organization based in Thunder Bay, Ontario. ABPA serves the First Nation business community within the Treaty #3, Treaty#5, Treaty #9 and Robinson Huron and Superior Treaty Areas. The ABPA develops and expresses positions on business issues and other public issues relevant to First Nation business, on behalf of its members. They provide a forum for the First Nation business community to develop policies and programming which contribute to the socio-economic well-being and quality of life of First Nations peoples in Northern Ontario. They also serve non-First Nation businesses by providing information, guidance, and access to a wide-ranging network through events and sponsorship.
Anishnawbe Business Professional Association
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