Funding announced for Billings Connections Trail

Delicious ice cream! This youngster gets ready to dig into a tasty treat at the Heritage Treats and Soda Fountain booth.

Announcement part of Summer Fest celebrations

KAGAWONG—As part of the Billings Recreation Committee Kagawong Summer Fest celebrations this past weekend, local, provincial and federal government representatives were in attendance to announce funding for the Billings Connections Trail Canada 150 and Ontario 150 funds.

Barb Erskine, chair of the Billings Recreation Committee and Billings Township councillor, welcomed everyone to the Summer Fest celebrations, noting that the celebrations are taking place on First Nation ancestral lands. “We are honoured to have the M’Chigeeng Ladies’ Hand Drum Group on hand for the opening song.

The official opening song was presented by the M’Chigeeng Ladies Hand Drum Group.

She was followed by an official welcome provided by Billings Township Mayor Austin Hunt, who praised the work of the local recreation committee and all those who had a hand in putting on the weekend celebrations.

“There is a great program of events for Saturday and Sunday and we hope everyone has a good time,” said Mayor Hunt.

“Thank you for the beautiful song performed by the M’Chigeeng Ladies’ Hand Drum Group to celebrate and remember Canada’s 150th anniversary,” stated Algoma-Manitoulin-Kapuskasing MP Carol Hughes. “I’d like to take this opportunity to thank 4elements Living Arts for all their advocacy and great work that they have accomplished. In a short period of time, they have done a great deal to raise awareness and educate the community on indigenous history and culture, as well as promote art and heritage in the area,” said Ms. Hughes.

“I would like to congratulate Billings township, 4elements Living Arts and the Billings Museum boat in promoting the history and culture of the area. This has happened by everyone working together,” said Ms. Hughes. “It’s an honour to be here and share in this celebration.”

Rescuing a car accident victim! Members of the Billings Township Volunteer Fire Department put on a full mock accident occurrence demonstration, involving a car and a victim involved in an incident and how they would free the person from the vehicle. The demonstration was held as part of the Kagawong summerfest celebrations.

“We’re going to have fun today,” stated Michael Mantha, MPP for Algoma-Manitoulin. “I am extremely happy to be here today. “I am quite excited to join with the Billings Recreation Committee in announcing the Kagawong Summer Fest celebrations. I also wish to congratulate all of the project coordinators on this fine community project. I also commend 4elements Living Arts for their outstanding contributions to this festival. And, without question the Billings Connections Trail will prove a popular attraction this year and for years to come. We welcome this opportunity to share some of what is best in Algoma-Manitoulin.”

Then Tracey Hilderley of Sault Ste. Marie sang a beautiful rendition of our national anthem, ‘O Canada.’

Ms. Hughes and Mr. Mantha were on hand to congratulate the community and announce funding from the Canada 150 Fund and Ontario 150 to the Billings Connections Art and Heritage Trail. Over $350,000 has been provided in total for the project. The major funding has facilitated a year long community project that includes Summerfest, a series of history talks including Steve Paikin and a second on Lester B. Pearson, and a Treaty history talk by Alan Corbiere, a discussion series that included a screening of Shirley Cheechoo’s film, ‘Moose River Crossing,’ the commission of six permanent public art works, 35 historical plaques, the creation of a sculpture to be designed by community members, and Elemental Festival at the end of September. The aim of the project is to build understanding and acknowledge the history of Billings Township, build relationships, and respond to calls by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. The project is a partnership between 4elements Living Arts, the Township of Billings, the Old Mill Heritage Centre and the Recreation Committee.

Kids of all ages enjoyed themselves at the many games held as part of summerfest.

This year’s Summer Fest theme focused on the heritage and history of Billings, complete with special heritage treats, a barbecue, kids games, a big canoe clinic, a heritage quilt show, a demonstration by the Billings Volunteer Fire Department of a full mock accident occurrence, a treaty history talk by featured guest speaker Alan Corbiere, a concert by Marcel Beneteau, a concert by Fagroongala, a Celtic/French-Canadian band, and much more.