AOK matriarch Annie Breyer feted on her 90th birthday

A “flabbergasted” Annie Breyer is greeted with a standing ovation from a packed hall filled with friends and family as she was escorted into a packed Aundeck Omni Kaning by her son Fred Lodder, left, and grandson Jonathon on the occasion of the celebration of her 90th birthday. Ms. Breyer holds the distinction of being the oldest member of her community, photos by Michael Erskine

AUNDECK OMNI KANING—Family and friends of Annie Catherine Breyer gathered at the Aundeck Omni Kaning band office community hall to celebrate the occasion of her 90th birthday and marking her status as the community’s oldest individual. Ms. Breyer, who still lives independently despite her vision issues, has played an important role in the lives of many community members, including at least two future chiefs of her community.

“Congratulations on the celebration of your 90th birthday from the leadership, staff and community of Aundeck Omni Kaning,” said Ogimaa Patsy Corbiere. “It is wonderful being able to share such a special birthday with a lady who has a heart of gold and is warm, kind and loving to everyone she meets. With the loss of her eye sight, we are proud of her independence and abilities. As she moves on to another decade, we wish Annie all the best as she creates another amazing memory with her family and friends.”

“It’s an honour for me to be here for the 90th birthday of Annie,” said Algoma-Manitoulin-Kapusking MP Carol Hughes, who travelled from Kapuskasing that day to attend. “I bring you greetings on behalf of (Algoma-Manitoulin MPP) Mike Mantha. Thank you, Annie for all that you have done to help build this community.”

Ms. Breyer’s son Fred Lodder and his son Jonathan, who now live in Hinton and Edmonton, Alberta, respectively came to help celebrate her special occasion.

“Thank you to everyone, and especially to my cousin Debbie (Madahbee-Crites) for the great job decorating the hall,” said Mr. Lodder. “Thank you to all who brought food tonight and to Elijah and the Backburners who are doing such a good job with the entertainment.” Mr. Lauder urged everyone to have a great evening, but to exercise discretion if they are driving.

Patrick Madahbee, former AOK chief and retired Anishinabek Nation Grand Council chief, holds a special place in his heart for Ms. Breyer. “They say never have favourites, but Annie has always been my favourite auntie,” he said, recalling that whenever he and his siblings would travel into Sudbury for a visit, “I would ask Fred ‘is Annie here?’”

Algoma-Manitoulin-Kapuskasing MP Carol Hughes stopped into wish Annie Breyer well on the occasion of her 90th birthday.

Mr. Madahbee credited Ms. Breyer for enabling he and his siblings to “do a lot of things” when they would visit. “We must have seen every movie that played at the theatres,” he recalled. “She was so kind, so generous,” he said. “And then, of course, Fred and I would go out and get in trouble in the neighbourhood,” he laughed. “But you could always count on Annie, she always would be there with a great smile, good will and never a bad word about anybody. She has been a real rock to our family.”

It was a message and theme that was to be repeated numerous times throughout the evening as stories shared filled the hall with laughter and delight.

Ms. Breyer’s son-in-law, Roy Eaton (married to Annie’s daughter Margaret), brought an opening message of congratulations and thanks from his family.

As for Ms. Breyer, her reaction was one of surprise and sheer delight.

“I am flabbergasted,” she said in response to the standing ovation and rousing rendition of ‘Happy Birthday’ that greeted her as she entered the room arm and arm with her son and grandson.

Although Ms. Breyer could no longer see the many people who came up to her throughout the evening to offer their congratulations, she remained undaunted. “I do recognize most of the voices,” she laughed.

Both Mr. Madahbee and Ogimaa Corbiere remarked how Ms. Breyer instilled a sense of responsibility and resilience in them and their siblings as she helped to raise them up to be the people they are today.