As summer comes to an end and we begin preparations for the upcoming autumn season, we want to send our best wishes to students, teachers, and everyone working within the education sector a happy and successful school year. We sincerely hope everyone had a fantastic summer season filled with pow wows, fun in the sun, and some relaxation!
While things tend to move a little slower politically during the summer season, the Executive Council kept a steady pace. We may not have many ministerial meetings taking place but we all had ensured that the priority areas within our dodem were consistently addressed. We also took the opportunity to champion community efforts and visit with leadership throughout the summer to support them in their various endeavours and to celebrate pow wow season when we could.
As the season always starts off with the convening of assemblies, we were grateful to be welcomed into Curve Lake First Nation as they hosted the annual Grand Council Assembly this year. We appreciated the hospitality that was extended to us by Chief Keith Knott and the entire community. We love being able to hold our assemblies directly in our communities and we cherish the time we get to spend with leaders and citizens and to take in the beauty of the local environment. It brings into perspective how vast and unique the Anishinabek territory is and allows us to see firsthand the diversity that exists within our First Nations.
Members of the Executive Council subsequently attended the Chiefs of Ontario Annual Chiefs Assembly in Thunder Bay June 13-15. We attend these meetings as observers and appreciate that we can come to these meetings to learn about First Nation priorities, challenges, and successes from across the regions. While sometimes there are unique issues or mandates that come forward that are specific to certain communities, there are times when situations arise that impact the rights of First Nations as a whole.
Chris Plain is now the Southwest Regional Deputy Grand Council Chief. His community, Aamjiwnaang, will be hosting the fall Anishinabek Nation Fall Assembly at the end of October.
Leadership are highly concerned about the possible implications on Treaty and inherent rights regarding the impending federal Bill C-53, Recognition of Certain Métis Governments in Alberta, Ontario and Saskatchewan and Métis Self-Government Act. In a remarkable show of unity and collective support, the Chiefs-in-Assembly stood before (former) Crown Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs (CIRNAC) Minister Marc Miller, who attended the meeting virtually, expressing their concerns and opposing the legislation. Despite their calls, the federal government is insistent on moving forth with the legislation that was introduced without prior consultation with First Nations.
The Chiefs-in-Assembly called for a rally at Parliament Hill in Ottawa, on June 19, 2023, to show a united front to oppose the introduction of the legislation that was scheduled for June 21. On September 20, there will be another demonstration for First Nation citizens to stand in solidarity and protest this attempt to dilute treaty and inherent rights. We encourage everyone to go to fnrightsatrisk.ca to learn more about how you can show your support.
Leadership from other provinces also showed their support in this effort during the Assembly of First Nations Annual General Assembly in Halifax, Nova Scotia. There were a lot of important issues on the forefront and we are reminded what these assemblies are for: to advance solutions to our priorities, advocate for our citizens, and represent the best interest of our communities. We, as elected leadership, hold an honoured responsibility to represent our communities and put our best foot forward with kindness and honesty. Embracing change and evolution is sometimes uncomfortable, but ensuring that our leadership and business approaches are entrenched in our cultural values and principles is key to securing the path forward with the future generations. We look forward to continuing our participation in these assemblies and supporting the critical work of the Anishinabek leadership.
As assembly season came to an end, we had the opportunity to strengthen our relationships with some of our ministerial counterparts. On June 23, 2023, we had a bilateral meeting with Indigenous Affairs Ontario at their office in Toronto. Minister of Indigenous Affairs of Ontario
Greg Rickford, Grand Council Chief Reg Niganobe, and the Regional Deputy Grand Council Chiefs discussed pressing priorities such as inflation, energy, 407 toll exemption, and employment and training, as well as funding expansion for Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder, and Indian Residential Schools and Reconciliation efforts. We anticipate further meetings with Indigenous Affairs Ontario to advance solutions that our communities need.
The Eshki-niigijig Advisory Council, accompanied by Grand Council Chief, met with Ontario Minister of the Environment, Conservation and Parks David Piccini at his office in Toronto on July 18, 2023. After their participation at the Great Lakes Guardian meeting in April, the Eshki-niigijig Advisory Council secured a meeting with Minister Piccini to discuss advocacy regarding personhood rights for water. The meeting started off beautifully with a water ceremony conducted by Council member Terra Roy. Other Council members in attendance included Pierre Debassige, Brittnee Waindubence, Katelyn Peters, Kingson Huff, Mackenzie Courchene, and Lance Copegog and each spoke about the importance of why we need to enact these rights for water. We are grateful to the Eshki-niigijig Advisory Council for their brilliance, wisdom, and unwavering leadership to advance this priority.
We understand that community work never stops and some members of the Executive Council had the opportunity to visit communities to both support work and celebrate momentous achievements. On July 13, Grand Council Chief Niganobe supported the Whetung family and the community of Curve Lake First Nation in the passing of Bill 31, The Murray Whetung Community Service Award Act. A Private Members Bill, the Act will honour exceptional cadets who exemplify the character and values of Murray Whetung, who was an honoured veteran with an exemplary service in the military during the Second World War. It is incredibly meaningful and we appreciate the efforts of Peterborough—Kawartha MPP Dave Smith for championing this effort.
In regards to supporting community work, we do our best to support communities that have specific needs and responsibilities around Indian Residential Schools. There have been some progressive advocacy efforts over the summer, with a meeting with former CIRNAC Minister Marc Miller and some of the Anishinabek caretaker and Indian Residential School site communities to discuss their concerns and needs to continue the critical and sacred work. While most of our communities have been touched by Indian Residential Schools in some way or another, there are those that live with direct legacies, whether they are former sites or burial grounds, they require ample support and resources to conduct the highly delicate work that entails the responsibility forced upon them. The legacy of Indian Residential Schools and other institutions, continue to impede intergenerational healing in our communities. Maintaining current resourcing is inadequate for Survivors and their families and does not get us any closer to reconciliation. We anticipate the new CIRNAC Minister Gary Anandasangaree to share the same concern and commitment as his predecessor as we move forward.
This summer, we also celebrated achievements and successes within our communities. We would like to acknowledge the communities of the Robinson Huron Treaty and congratulate them on finalizing a settlement with Canada. We send our best wishes as your communities embark on internal negotiations. We also send congratulations to Netmizaaggamig Nishnaabeg (Pic Mobert First Nation) and Biigtigong Nishnaabeg (Pic River First Nation) on their boundary overlap signing. They held a special ceremony and we are proud to witness this true act of nationhood amongst these two communities.
As we embark on this new season and preparing for harvest (and another assembly season), we continue to put great efforts into ensuring the priorities and mandates are achieved to the best of our ability. We are honoured to represent the leadership and communities of Anishinabek Nation in this capacity.
Noteable Meetings and Events:
Chiefs of Ontario Chiefs Assembly: June 13-15
Anishinabek Nation-Indigenous Affairs Office Bilateral meeting: June 23
Assembly of First Nations Annual General Assembly: July 11-13
Indigenous Panel – Canadian Conference on Nuclear Waste Management, Decommissioning and Environmental Restoration: August 27-31
Murray Whetung Bill: July 2023
Anishinabek Nation Eshki-niigijig Maawanjidiwaad 2023 Youth Gathering: August 11-13
Chippewas of the Thames First Nation Indian Residential School Monument Unveiling: August
Upcoming Events and Meetings:
Robinson Huron Treaty Gathering, Sault Ste. Marie: September 7-9
Commemoration of 10th Anniversary of Indian Residential School monument, Anishinabek Nation Head Office: September 29
Anishinabek Nation Regional meetings: September-October (various dates)
Anishinabek Nation 9th Annual Health Conference: October 17-19
Anishinabek Nation 7th Generation Charity Evening of Excellence: October 19
Anishinabek Nation Fall Assembly: October 24-25
Economic Development Summit: October 24-26
Treaties Recognition Week: November 6-10
Maajishkaatoon Anishinaabe Naaknigewinan Maawnjidwin / Implementing Anishinaabe Laws Forum (TBA)
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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