By Leslie Knibbs
MISSISSAUGA #8 FIRST NATION – In April of this year, Mississauga #8 First Nation Gimaa (Chief) Bob Chiblow received an invitation to be part of a delegation of Mississauga First Nations visiting the United Kingdom. The visit was the first in 160 years for the Michi Saagiig Nishnaabeg Nation (Mississauga Nation). The purpose of this nation-to-nation diplomatic mission was to renew relationships and explore cultural, educational, and business opportunities for their First Nation with their treaty partner, and the Manx Nation of Indigenous People on the Isle of Man.
History shows that there were many delegations to the United Kingdom from Mississauga Nation during the 19th century, the last being a visit to Queen Victoria by Nahneebahwequa (Catherine Sutton) in 1860, five years before she passed. As a child, she travelled to England with Kahkewaquonaby (also known as Reverend Peter Jones), who petitioned the Crown for First Nations land rights.
Historical archives show following this 1860 visit, the colonial government of Canada worked to prevent any further delegations from travelling to the United Kingdom. Since 1860, there have been no delegations from the Mississauga Nation to the United Kingdom. Canada’s Confederation in 1867 largely ended the tradition of Indigenous Nations sending delegations to the British Isles. The Indian Act was passed by the Government of Canada in 1876, further restricting the rights of Indigenous people meant to have direct relations with the Crown.
Members of this year’s historic delegation included Gimaa Stacey Laforme (Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation), Gimaa Bob Chiblow (Mississauga First Nation), Councillor Steven Toms (Curve Lake First Nation), and Professor Chadwick Cowie from Hiawatha First Nation. Accompanying the group were Veronica Low from the Steven Low Foundation who sponsored the trip and Nathan Tidridge.
“This visit is a reminder of the relationship between the Crown and the Michi Saagiig – a visit between nations as it was in the past; a visit that hasn’t occurred since 1860. We are hopeful that this visit will renew our relations and create positive opportunities in the future. It is also a reminder of our obligations to our mother, the earth. Instead of thinking of climate change as a problem to be solved, think instead of Mother Earth as a soul to be saved. If we can do that, we can change everything,” expresses Gimaa Laforme.
“We hope this visit will be a catalyst to further understanding of our histories and enhance our nation building initiatives,” shares Gimaa Chiblow. “I confirmed my participation in May; I received the notice/invite in April. I needed to know details of the mission and confirmation we’d meet with the King before I committed.”
And meet with the King he did on July 4 in the county of Edinburgh at the King’s official summer residence in Scotland.
“We were guests at a Garden Party at Holyroodhouse Palace, the King was aware of our delegation and requested we be the first to meet him, so we were placed front and centre when he came out of the palace. I spoke with him for about two minutes, our delegation about 15 minutes total, which is a long time apparently,” he recalls. “I was to let him reach out first to shake my hand and let him speak first. He asked how our trip was going and if this meeting (with him) was our only function, I responded that we’ve been on this mission for few days and will be continuing to other functions for a couple more days. He then asked about the wildfires and how they started and I mentioned lightning, sparks from railway, and possibly discarded cigarettes. He then wished us well and hope we enjoy the rest of our trip. Nothing too serious, but we connected with a direct contact to the King. We have established a direct line to him, if needed… I wish I could have delivered the messages people wanted me to, to the King, but, not enough time and appropriateness. This was a diplomatic mission, an exercise of sovereignty, that was done outside of any help from the Canadian or British governments. The purpose was to enhance relationships with other nations (Isle of Man, Corporation of the City of London) that could lead to important business, cultural, and nation-to-nation relationships. Some very important opportunities for future partnerships are in the works.”
A few days after returning home, Chief Chiblow reflected on being part of this historic mission.
“I got emotional thinking, afterwards, of the significance of this diplomatic mission. Not many people in the world get to shake the hand and speak directly to the King. This is a sphere I was indifferent to, but once in the experience, it hit home – the relevance and exposure for my community, Mississauga #8, and the Mississauga Nation can be great,” Chief Chiblow said when asked about the purpose and what was accomplished by the Mississauga First Nation mission. “The meeting with the King reinforced our ancient and unique relationship with the Crown – one outside the Canadian government of the day. We established friendships which have already yielded potential opportunities such as youth exchange with the Isle of Man. We will see more from this visit as this was a mission to establish relationships as well.”
The mission trip was sponsored by The Steven Low Foundation. Steven Low is a Holocaust survivor who has made it his legacy to bring healing and hope to those who have suffered.
“The First Nations, Métis, and Inuit are my brethren. They are all my relations. The Foundation that bears my name will help find the beloved remains of Residential [School] children, bring closure to those suffering from generational trauma, while fulfilling other needs of Indigenous communities as requested,” he said in a public statement.
Low’s daughter Veronica accompanied the delegation on their mission.
Executive Assistant to the Vice-President Academic and Research (VPAR)
Mikinakoos Children’s Fund launches $15,000 fundraiser for GivingTuesday
THUNDER BAY (November 22, 2023) — Mikinakoos Children’s Fund, an Indigenous children’s charity providing essentials to youth in remote First Nations in Northwestern Ontario, is announcing the launch of a special fundraiser in recognition of GivingTuesday.
In alignment with the global GivingTuesday movement, Mikinakoos Children’s Fund aims to raise $15,000 to provide vital winter clothing to 18 First Nations, collaborating with the KO First Nations, Keewaytinook Internet Highschools, and Fort Hope First Nation. The initiative seeks to purchase over 1,500 coats for children in these regions, ensuring they are equipped to brave the harsh winter months.
“The winter season can be particularly challenging in the remote areas we serve, where many children lack access to proper winter gear,” said Mikinakoos Executive Director Emily Shandruk. “Mikinakoos Children’s Fund believes that every child deserves the warmth of hope during the colder months. With this in mind, we’re launching this crucial campaign to make a positive impact.”
Recent support from TD Canada Trust’s Ready Commitment Funding, a $50,000 grant over two years, is boosting Mikinakoos Children’s Fund’s Warm Clothing initiatives, of which this initiative is a part. With growing requests from various communities and organizations, Mikinakoos’ GivingTuesday funding alone wouldn’t have sufficed. Thanks to the extra support, the charity can now ensure that no child is left without essential resources.
GivingTuesday, which falls on November 28, marks the opening day of the giving season—a global movement encouraging people to come together for a day of generosity and positive change. Mikinakoos invites individuals and organizations alike to join in the effort to make a difference.
Here’s how you can contribute:
Donate: Your contribution, regardless of size, will bring Mikinakoos Children’s Fund closer to its $15,000 goal. Every dollar counts. GivingTuesday falls on November 28; however, this fundraiser will run until December 31.
Spread the Word: Share our campaign on social media, with friends, family, and colleagues. Together, we can make a wider impact.
“The remoteness of the communities we serve presents challenges in shipping and distributing necessities, such as food, sporting equipment, and winter gear, especially with the absence of permanent roads,” said Shandruk. “Climate change has further exacerbated the inconsistency of ice road conditions, making the delivery of essential items even more difficult.”
Please consider contributing to Mikinakoos Children’s Fund’s GivingTuesday campaign through this link or by texting “WARMCOATS” to 807-500-1522. Interviews with spokespeople from Mikinakoos Children’s Fund are available upon request.
About Mikinakoos Children’s Fund
Mikinakoos Children’s Fund is a charity created to address poverty by providing basic amenities, such as food, clothing, and shelter to First Nations children residing in remote communities. Join us on this journey to create positive change and secure the safety and wellbeing First Nations children. Engage with Mikinakoos Children’s Fund on social through #FirstNationKidsFirst.
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