Springtime is traditionally a very busy season across the Anishinabek Nation territory and that was exactly the case for the Executive Council these last few months. We have had a productive season with a number of exciting meetings, activities, and forums throughout the months of March, April, and May. While a lot of our primary focus has been on engaging with leadership at the regional levels and getting prepared for the Grand Council Assembly, there have also been several opportunities for strengthening our relationships with external bodies and bringing forth common priorities to larger audiences.
Water protection has been a top priority for many of our communities and we have been putting extensive efforts into amplifying messaging and supporting efforts across the board. Taking into consideration that many Anishinabek First Nations reside directly on or near the Great Lakes, it’s understandable that water protection is such a high priority — this is why we have increased our efforts and are advocating for personhood rights for Nibi. The Grand Council recently mandated the Great Lakes Bill of Rights to propose legislation to implement these rights for water. This will ensure that we not only strengthen our protection and conservation efforts, but guarantee that clean drinking water remains available to the millions of people who rely on it daily. We encourage you to visit our website to learn more information.
We had the opportunity to bring this message into the regional, national, and international realms and we were met with tremendous support. We also made beneficial connections with leaders as well as water policy and research experts. In April, we participated in the Great Lakes Guardian Council with Minister David Piccini and other leaders with a vested interest in the protection of the Great Lakes. Following that, we are proud to have been invited to the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues where we brought forth the same message. We also had the opportunity to engage with leading science experts and researchers at the International Association for Great Lakes Research Conference. We are excited to see Anishinaabe water experts being involved in these larger efforts such as Carrie-Anne Charles, who provided a riveting keynote address at the International Association for Great Lakes Research’s 66th Annual Conference.
It is imperative that we continue to be involved and meaningfully included. Culture, traditions, and ancestral knowledge are critical components that need to be included in policy reform through engagement and consultation efforts. This applies across all sectors including environment, social, lands and resources, education, justice, health, and anything that may impact our rights and territories. We continue to meet with Ontario Ministerial partners to ensure that our mandates, as well as urgent and priority concerns, are brought forward to the appropriate leaders who can help us achieve solutions and outcomes.
Recently, Anishinabek Nation Regional Deputy Grand Council Chiefs James Marsden and Melvin Hardy, along with members of the Lands and Resources Department, met with the Ministries of Natural Resources and Forestry and Mines at their offices at Queen’s Park. Ministers Graydon Smith and George Pirie heard from us about some of the main concerns pertaining to outstanding and emerging issues relating to their ministerial mandates. We were able to highlight how relationship-building efforts can be strengthened but also where we have successful partnerships such as the Anishinabek/Ontario Fisheries Resource Centre. Continual issues such as increasing capacity, improving consultation, and implementation of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples remain at the forefront of our message.
We returned to Queen’s Park the following day when Lake Huron Regional Deputy Grand Council Chief Travis Boissoneau supported Garden River First Nation in its litigation efforts regarding land issues that arose from the Pennefather Treaty. It is incredibly meaningful for the community to rectify the wrongful loss of land and extend an invitation to the government to take this opportunity as a true act of reconciliation on behalf of the Crown. It was a beautiful moment for the community that honourably carried its Eagle Staff into the halls of the legislature and later fulfilled its intent with ceremony and protocol.
Our advocacy efforts at the ministerial level take us beyond Queen’s Park; we have been advancing relationship-building efforts with Ontario Health. We want to build a relationship where we can collaborate and engage with each other where we can achieve our common vision of improving healthcare and health outcomes for the citizens of our Nation. Transformative health can only be achieved when we collectively strive toward the common vision of accessible healthcare for everyone. We face many risk factors with impending federal legislation and the provincial move towards healthcare privatization that these relationship-building efforts have become more integral.
We look forward to the incoming summer season and the warmer weather. Anishinaabe Giizhigad took place on June 6, which continues to grow each year and this year, we had it leading into our Grand Council Assembly held in Curve Lake First Nation. We will also be participating in the upcoming Chiefs of Ontario Annual Assembly in June and the Assembly of First Nations Annual General Assembly in July.
If we don’t see you at the assemblies, we look forward to running into many of you on the pow wow trail — we hope you all have a great summer!
Notable Meetings and Events:
Chiefs of Ontario Health Forum
Prospectors & Developers Association of Canada Convention
LNHL Opening Ceremonies
Anishinaabe Dodemaag Teachings
Assembly First Nation Special Chiefs Assembly
Meet and Greet with Special Investigations Unit
Anishinabek Nation Mental Health Summit
B’Maakonigan and Minister Miller
Ontario Health Board Education Session
AFN Health Legislation
AFN Housing Forum
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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