WIIKWEMKOONG—Like many Island volunteers, Angela (Angie) Peltier’s sense of volunteerism was instilled through the example of generations of family. So, when she observed a need for new dockage at Prairie Point in Wiikwemkoong Unceded Territory, the avid angler rolled up her sleeves and set to work finding solution to a community need.
“My volunteering stems from watching grandparents from both side as a little girl,” said Ms. Peltier. “I used to see my Trudeau grandparents volunteer for our local church. My grandma Trudeau used to bake and donate for bake sales or church prize bingos and my grandfather used to help maintain the church area, cutting grass in the summer months and shovelling the walkway in winter months. They both also volunteered with the church bazaars and elders’ conferences.” Ms. Peltier spent many childhood hours shuttling between her grandparents and other family members as they helped in the community.
“My Peltier grandparents, along with my aunts, uncle and dad, were also volunteers,” she noted. “They used to do pony rides inside the ruins at church bazaars and whatever money was made was given towards the church. My Peltier grandfather also started a hockey team called the Rabbit Island Playboyz around 1952, while my dad coached hockey as a volunteer.”
As for herself, Ms. Peltier has continued to lend a hand wherever needed. “I have volunteered with many organizations over the years growing up, like Wiky powwows, church bazaars, fall fairs, Whitefish Festival, Maple Syrup Festival, bingos, and more recently, COVID store runs. I’ve been everywhere,” she laughs.
Ms. Peltier spearheaded a dock and launch area enhancement project for Prairie Point in partnership with Wiikwemkoong Tourism/Wiikwemkoong Development Corporation, but although they were successful, changing water levels means the job isn’t quite done. “This year looks like we need to do a dock and launch area extension project,” she laughs undaunted. “Water levels change every year and it’s beyond our control.”
Like most community leaders, Ms. Peltier is quick to share the glory. “I want to acknowledge the Wiikwemkoong Chase the Ace team,” she said. “The dock and launch project would have not been possible without them—most of all the ticket buyers.”
Ms. Peltier said she started the Wiikwemkoong Anglers’ group in 2018. “I didn’t know what I was getting myself into,” she laughs. “We started off small and have grown to be known and respected around Northern Ontario (despite the pandemic) through our virtual summer and winter derbies.”
Ms. Peltier admits she finds the exponential growth of the derbies just a bit daunting. “The growing part is scaring me. It would have not got this far without the help from the team over the years and I am so grateful for all who are still walking beside me to keep fishing going in our community,” she said. “My team includes Santana Eshkawkogan, Galen Trudeau and Lorne Agawa as well as my partner, Evans Pitawanakwat.”
“Me and Evans are avid anglers and discuss a lot of fishing together,” she said. “That’s where the idea of starting derbies in Wiikwemkoong began. Galen and Lorne are no strangers, helping with the pre-derby videos and discussing rules. Watching the video bloopers are the best before an official video is posted. Santana and I work behind the scenes working together on rules, posters and more.”
“Two years ago, we started a Wiikwemkoong Jr. Anglers bass derby and family ice derby in partnership with Wassa Naabin Youth Centre and Wiikwemkoong Prevention Services. Those have grown from 45 children at the start to more than 100 children and youth ranging in ages 2 years to 17 years of age—and it is only getting bigger.”
“We have a lot of great people in Wiikwemkoong who go out of their way to make great things happen in our community,” said Ms. Peltier. “Volunteers do not necessarily have the time; they just have the heart. Be the change you want to see. Our children and youth are watching and will fill in our shoes someday and take over. Let’s lead them by example.”