Aundeck Omni Kaning hosts 2016 Grand Council Assembly

The Elders’ Panel included Elsie Bissaillion, Leroy Dolson, Mike Esquega, Gordon Waindubence and Donna Debassige. photo by Robin Burridge

AUNDECK OMNI KANING—Aundeck Omni Kaning First Nation (AOK) hosted the 2016 Grand Council Assembly last month.

The event started out on a celebratory note, as the Chippewas of Rama rejoined the Union of Ontario Indians.

“I am so glad to be part of the Union and honoured to be here today,” said Rama Chief Rodney Noganosh. “Thank you for welcoming us back with opening arms.”

After opening remarks from AOK Chief Patsy Corbiere, Grand Council Chief Patrick Madahbee and Deputy Grand Council Chief Glen Hare, the elders panel was introduced: Elsie Bissaillion, Leroy Dolson, Mike Esquega, Gordon Waindubence and Donna Debassige.

Mr. Esquega, from Northern Superior, began the panel discussing how the Union is all one big nation working together as a family. “We need to be sovereign and to govern ourselves,” said Mr. Esquega. “We should respect each other and we need to visit those seven grandfather teachings to live the best we can.  Our language and culture is who we are as people and we need to work with the elders in our communities to learn the language and learn the ceremonies so we can know the culture.”

Ms. Debassige, from M’Chigeeng First Nation, spoke in Ojibwe, which was translated by Chief Glen Hare. She stressed the importance of sweat lodges and standing together as a nation. She also spoke of missing and murdered aboriginal women and how something needs to be done to stop it.

Ms. Bissaillion repeated the importance of “language to our nation.”

“The teachings from elders has always been of value,” said Ms. Bissaillion. “The creators instilled in us to be caretakers of the land.”

She explained that the eagle staff, wampum belt and bundle are all message carriers to the Creator. “They let us take messages back like the eagle, one of the birds that can fly the highest,” she said.

“We need to bring that spirituality back to our people for our younger generation,” said Ms. Bissaillion.

During the assembly there was also a chief’s circle, an opportunity for the chiefs to talk about what is happening in their communities, a review and resolutions concerning the Child Well-Being Implementation Plan, a discussion of the Anishinaabemowin Language Portal and discussions related to restorative jurisdiction, lands and resources, economic development, the Motherrisk Commission and the annual portfolio panel.