Another outstanding Haweater brought to you by volunteers

The Wiikwemkoong Cultural Festival and Little Current Lions Club Haweater Weekend returned with gusto this past weekend and the streets of Little Current saw capacity crowds as visitors and locals alike took part in activities for the entire family for the first time in three years. Wiikwemkoong Unceded Territory also hosted a return of the famous Wiikwemkoong Cultural Festival, better known locally (much to the chagrin of the organizers) as the Wiiky Powwow and Anishinaabe Giizhigad (Thunderbird Park) was overflowing with dancers (some 300-plus), visitors (roughly 6,000) and local residents making the event one of the most successful in memory.

Both these events owe a major chi-miigwetch and thank you very much from their communities to their volunteers, because neither would be possible without their contributions. This can be said for communities across Manitoulin Island, and in truth the entirety of Turtle Island, as the quality of life in small rural communities is very much volunteer driven.

It should come as little surprise to anyone that Canada is listed at the very top of the list of countries with the best quality of life (US News survey 2022). Yes, that’s number one (following the latest of social media memes—it’s probably Trudeau’s fault).

Volunteers quite literally make our rural world go around, from the informal “aunties” that power Anishinaabe gatherings, to the auxiliaries who support our health centres and Royal Canadian Legions, through the Rotary functions and Lions Clubs. We couldn’t do without them.

We here at The Expositor have always reached out to provide support and acknowledgement of the efforts of volunteers and their events and this edition of this newspaper is no exception. Our staff has been out and about at both events, documenting as much of the action as possible and, it is truly a labour of love. Small communities are famous for pulling together and if there was ever any evidence of that, it has been the last couple of years even though most of the events and activities of volunteer and service organizations have been largely curtailed during the restrictions of the pandemic.

Now that events are starting to emerge from the ashes of global pandemic, volunteers are once again stepping up to do what they do best: making our communities the wonderful places to live they are.

The efforts of the Little Current Lions Club and the Wiikwemkoong Heritage Organization and their volunteers are a case in point, but there is another cadre of individuals who have gone above and beyond their regular work during the August long weekend, and other weekend events across Manitoulin as well, and that are the staffs of municipalities and First Nations. More often met with complaint than compliment, these hardy folks are deserving of recognition and thanks for their efforts.

We sometimes get sidetracked by the challenges in our lives and those obstacles that seem to delight in confounding our dreams but it is weekends such as the one just passed that stand to remind us just how lucky we are as a nation.

The weekend visit of the Slovakian ambassador and his notes on the current tragedies and crimes against humanity being heaped upon the people of Ukraine should stand as a reminder of how lucky we, as Canadians, are with our position in the world.

That is a real reason to celebrate, for all of the rhetoric being foisted upon us through social media and the machinations of a “Freedom Convoy” bent on overthrowing our democratically elected government and its adherents—Canada remains the nation with the highest overall quality of life.