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Mental Health and opioid addiction key priority at Anishinabek Health Summit



Tim Ominika, Anishinabek Nation Mental Health and Addiction Systems Specialist, spoke at the inaugural Mental Health and Opioid Addiction Summit that took place on May 24 and 25 in Sault Ste. Marie, Ont.

By Jesse Johnson

SAULT STE. MARIE – The Anishinabek Nation’s Health Secretariat held its inaugural Mental Health and Opioid Addiction Summit on May 24 and 25 at the Quattro Hotel and Conference Centre in Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., with more than 120 guests in attendance.

Elder Mary Elliott from Atikameksheng First Nation shared the Opening Prayer where she spoke about the importance of water and how cleansing, calming, and refreshing it is.

Ojibways of Garden River First Nation Chief Andy Rickard provided opening remarks and welcomed participants to his community’s traditional territory.

“We’ve lost community members and we’ve suffered; addiction has not only impacted families but the community as a whole,” he expresses. “I think it’s fitting that we’re having this Summit in Sault Ste. Marie. It’s no secret that this is one of the worst areas for opioids and drug addiction. It doesn’t take much to drive downtown and see the impact drugs have had on this area.”

“Mental health is a tough topic at the Anishinabek,” adds Anishinabek Nation Lake Huron Regional Deputy Grand Council Chief Travis Boissoneau. “The communities are struggling with mental health and addictions; the realities are harsh and the challenges are real.”

Event Organizers Tim Ominika, Mental Health and Addiction Systems Specialist, and Katie Pine, Opioid Strategic Planning Specialist, shared some of the recommendations from a Mental Health, Addiction, and Opioid Summary Report that was completed earlier this year.

“If we work collectively, we can attack these problems more effectively,” says Ominika.

Loretta Nootchtai and Gerrilynn Manitowabi, members of the Health Transformation Team, provided a short overview of the project and its objectives.

“We are currently meeting with each First Nation’s Chief and Council so that we can introduce Health Transformation and discuss the best ways to move forward with this important initiative,” says Nootchtai, Health Transformation Project Manager.

Participants heard presentations from different land-based program representatives including David George and Michelle Manitowabi who spoke about Wiikwemkoong’s Naandwe Miikan program; Sam Gilchrist who presented on the Aundeck Omni Kaning’s Gwekwaadziwin Miikan program; and, Elizabeth Richer and Dorothy Coad who discussed North Shore Tribal Council’s Niigaaniin’s Mamaweswen program.

A Youth panel focused on sharing lived-experiences, which consisted of panelists Robert of Nipissing First Nation, and Daimien and Mandy from Wiikwemkoong Unceded Territory.

Jonathan Peltier of Wiikwemkoong Unceded Territory presented on Reintegration from Incarceration: Overcoming Barriers to Mino Bimaadiziwin.

“When you disappoint people, it plays a lot on your mental being. You feel low. The Grandfather Teachings taught me that when I speak about my truth, then I need to be honest.”

On Day 2 of the Summit, participants heard presentations from Dr. Andrea Sereda, Physician at London Intercommunity Health Centre, who spoke on Providing Harm Reduction for Marginalized People, and Dr. Jonathon Bertram, Addictions and Pain Medicine Physician, who presented on the Effects of Addiction Treatments on the Brain.

There was also a panel discussion prior to the closing remarks.

“Congratulations to Tim, Katie and the whole team for making this Summit a huge success,” says Jamie Restoule, Anishinabek Nation Health Director. “We still have a lot of work to do in order to better support our communities with their mental health and opioid problems, but I’m confident we’re moving in the right direction.”

For more information about the Anishinabek Nation’s Health Secretariat, visit

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Sam on Sports: Abby Roque




BRAMPTON, ONTARIO – APRIL 3: USA’s Abby Roque #11 – 2023 IIHF Ice Hockey Women’s World Championship at CAA Centre on April 3, 2023 in Brampton, Ontario. (Photo by Matt Zambonin/IIHF)

By Sam Laskaris

WAHNAPITAE FIRST NATION – She’s not a household name like Connor McDavid or Auston Matthews.

But like those two National Hockey League superstars, Abby Roque is also one of the world’s top hockey players.

And chances are with the recent formation of the Professional Women’s Hockey League (PWHL), a lot more people are going to find out about the talents of Roque, a member of Wahnapitae First Nation in northern Ontario.

Roque, who turns 26 on Sept. 25, is expected to be one of the stars of the newly created women’s pro league.

The PWHL will commence play in early January with six franchises.

While the cities that squads will play in during the league’s inaugural season have been announced, none of the clubs have yet to reveal their full names. Or which arenas they will be playing out of.

Whisperings are the Toronto franchise will call the Coca-Cola Coliseum home. The facility is also the home rink for the American Hockey League’s Toronto Marlies, the top affiliate for the NHL’s Toronto Maple Leafs.

The PWHL will also include two other Canadian franchises, one in Montreal and the other in the nation’s capital of Ottawa.

As for Roque, she’ll be suiting up for the yet-to-be named New York team. Boston and Minnesota clubs will also be participating in the circuit.

Pro women’s hockey in North America is nothing new. Other leagues have come and gone, including the recent Premier Hockey Federation, which ceased operations this past June.

Other pro leagues never had the opportunity to flourish, in part because they never really featured the majority of the top players in the world.

For example, Roque spent the 2020-21 and 2022-23 seasons touring with the Professional Women’s Hockey Players Association, featuring a group of elite players showcasing their skills in various cities across North America while advocating for a viable circuit.

Though her First Nation is in Ontario, Roque has achieved the majority of her hockey success in the United States. She’s a dual citizen and represents the U.S. in international competitions.

Roque’s highlights include helping the Americans win the gold medal at the world women’s hockey championships earlier this year in Brampton.

Roque also led the U.S. to silver medals at the 2021 and ’22 world tournaments. Plus, she was on the American squad that captured the silver medal at 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics.

Before suiting up for the U.S. senior women’s club, Roque was one of the top American collegiate players, toiling with the University of Wisconsin. Her accolades include helping her school win the NCAA championship in 2019.

Not surprisingly, Roque inked a contract with the PWHL’s New York squad earlier this month.
No doubt the high-scoring forward would be a valuable asset to any franchise in the new pro loop.

All six participating clubs were allowed to sign three players before the PWHL draft, held on Monday this week in Toronto.

Roque will in all likelihood be one of the go-to players for the New York squad. And if league organizers are correct with their thoughts that the PWHL is indeed the real deal for women’s hockey, expect many more people to know who Roque is in the coming months.

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Anishinaabemowin Coordinator





“To give a voice to the vision of the Anishinabek Nation and to preserve

 Anishinaabe Bimaadziwin while advancing our goal of Nationhood.”

Employment Opportunity

Anishinaabemowin Coordinator

LOCATION: Anishinabek Nation Head Office, Nipissing First Nation OR Munsee-Delaware Nation Satellite Office OR Curve Lake First Nation Satellite Office OR Fort William First Nation Satellite Office OR Thunder Bay Satellite Office OR Garden River First Nation Satellite Office OR Sudbury Satellite Office

Full Time Position with Benefits

 (after successfully completing 3 months of employment)

Salary Range: $60,032 to $68,036

In this rewarding position, the Anishinaabemowin Coordinator will work with the Anishinaabemowin Manager, Anishinaabemowin Commissioner, and Enkiitmajig Wii-aabiziitoong Anishinaabemowin Committee in the delivery of its work plan and strategic goals to support Anishinaabemowin for the Anishinabek Nation in accordance with its resolution mandate. The Anishinaabemowin Coordinator will report directly to the Anishinaabemowin Manager.


Minimum two (2) years of experience in an administrative role and/or business office setting;
Diploma or Degree in Anishinaabemowin, Administration, Business, Office Administration, Public Administration, or other applicable scope of study;
Working knowledge of Indigenous language stabilization and revitalization;
Ability to understand and speak Anishinaabemowin and/or a willingness to learn;
Exceptional computer skills and ability to work with different platforms (i.e. Microsoft Office, Zoom, Social Media); and
Valid Ontario driver’s license and be insurable.


Passion and keen interest in acquisition, retention, revitalization and stabilization of Anishinaabemowin;
Strong work ethic and commitment to preserving First Nation culture, language and heritage;
Comprehensive research skills;
Excellent coordination skills and experience in arranging travel, accommodations, booking of meeting spaces/board rooms and organizing online meetings with Zoom platform;
Familiarity with setting up files (hard copies and e-files) and storage of key program documents;
Excellent written and verbal communication skills;
Excellent networking skills;
Outstanding interpersonal and problem-solving skills;
Good understanding of the Anishinabek Nation, its goals and objectives; and
Exhibit professional attitudes and behavior.


Provide administrative support to the Anishinaabemowin Manager in the development of the Anishinaabemowin Department for the Anishinabek Nation;
Schedule and coordinate meetings as requested including identifying and confirming meeting spaces, coordinating travel plans for participants, processing purchase orders and cheque requisitions for payments, preparing meeting agenda, taking notes, drafting reports, etc.;
Assist with the implementation of the Committee’s strategic plan and record any adjustments as required as part of the yearly review;
Support Anishinaabemowin teacher in delivery of weekly Anishinaabemowin classes;
Create contact lists and compile directory of key contacts with government agencies and First Nations in response to the Indigenous Languages Act for project funding and program development;
Order/store and file Anishinaabemowin products, and help to develop a clearing house to share information with First Nations and staff;
Book translation services as required;
Support the collaboration efforts between the Anishinabek Nation, the Anishinabek Educational Institute, and the Education Secretariat for academic program development and accreditation;
Attend meetings with the Anishinaabemowin Manager as required;
Arrange for meetings with Nation Building Advisory Committee members, Getzidjig and other language keepers for language development as required; and
Adhere to all established Anishinabek Nation (Union of Ontario Indians) policies and procedures.


Cover Letter;
Three employment references;
Identify whether the applicant has been previously employed by the Anishinabek Nation (formerly Union of Ontario Indians). Note that the organization will conduct a reference check with the previous employee’s immediate supervisor;
Identify whether the applicant is a member of one of the 39 Anishinabek First Nations; and
The Anishinabek Nation welcomes and encourages applications from people with disabilities. Accommodations are available upon request for candidates taking part in all aspects of the hiring process.

Applications must be received no later than 4:30pm on Friday October 6, 2023.

Applications are to be submitted to:

Human Resources Department

Fax: (705) 497-9135 | Email:

For inquiries regarding this position, please contact:

Ali Darnay, Anishinaabemowin Manager


Miigwech to all applicants for their interest, however, only those who qualify for an interview will be contacted.

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