by Betty Bardswich
M’CHIGEENG—June 21st marks Aboriginal Day across Canada and celebrations were held in M’Chigeeng to mark the occasion beginning with asunrise summer soltisce ceremony held at the Francis Xavier Debassige Memorial Ball Park and Powwow Grounds. Other early events held at the Ojibwe Cultural Foundation were a massage with Lynn, herbal tea and scones, cultural expressions with remarkable artisan Darlene Bebonang and four sacred medicines teachings with Leona Nawehahbow.
By 11 am, the first aid station was set up as well as vendors and M’Chigeeng Drum made their entrance with a grand entry song using the drum that had first been blessed at a sacred fire. At this point, the dancers, including Jaiden Ense, Lourdes Tauke, Logan Debassige, Jolene Debassige and Mathew Debassige, took part in the celebration wearing beautiful regalia.
M’Chigeeng First Nation Deputy Chief Brian Bisson welcomed the audience to the festivities and thanked people for coming out to this community celebration of Aboriginal Day and noted that there were a lot of activities for all ages. He then thanked the sponsors, saying “miigwetch” to Family Resources Community Support and Youth Program, Community Wellness, the Fire Department, Ontario Works, Capital/Public Works, UCCM Police, M’Chigeeng First Nation chief and council, Mental Health, Land Management and Canadian Heritage.
Master of Ceremonies Jesse Beaudin then took charge and the fun-filled day went on with horse and buggy rides, an obstacle course with UCCM Police, a bike safety school, balloon animals, apple bobbing, Indian Ball, and hot dogs and hamburgers for all.
The afternoon saw several competitions including a potato peeling contest sponsored by Manitoulin Family Resources, and best coleslaw, baked beans and strawberry dessert contests with Ontario Works also being a sponsor of these events. The peeling of the potatoes was done with much laughter and proved to be very useful, as the potatoes were now ready to team up with fish for a fry feast to cap off the day.
Bonita Bebamash took top honours in the potato contest, followed by Samantha Corbiere and Rachel Panamick.
Ms. Bebamash also won the best coleslaw competition with Harmony Bebamash taking second spot and Pearl Bebamash third. There was only one entry in the baked beans contest and the honours went to Pearl Bebamash. Rebecca Corbiere had the best strawberry dessert and Nyala Hare O’Connor was second and Lily Panamick, third.
All in all, a great day. Songs, dancers, activities, competitions and good food added up to a lot of fun and the celebration of First Nation culture.