$50,000 reward still stands for answers to 14-year-old mystery
WIIKWEMKOONG – The family and friends of the late Anthony ‘Antz’ Mandamin gathered for a memorial march through Wiikwemkoong September 5, adopting a new tone this year to encourage a resolution to the 14-year cold case surrounding his death.
“Chi miigwetch for being here. This is the area where Anthony had his last few breaths but … we need to put the pieces together to find out what went on,” said Hazel Fox-Recollet, a relative through Mr. Mandamin’s dad’s side of the family.
Ms. Fox-Recollet spoke those words when the march reached a small roadside memorial along Kaboni Road, southeast of the town of Wiikwemkoongsing. Close to 100 people took part in at least some of the day’s events.
There, elders offered a prayer and smudge and Nimkii Osawamick and Matthew Stevenson drummed an honour song.
Mr. Mandamin died at age 25, 14 years ago. Police say a driver hit him around 6 am on September 16, 2006, as he was walking home from a house party along the roadside.
However, some family members suspect that the death may not have been a simple hit-and-run. Mr. Mandamin’s brother died in 1999 and while the official narrative is that he fell from a cliff, the family believes someone may have pushed him. They fear suspicious circumstances may be at play in Mr. Mandamin’s case, too.
Ms. Fox-Recollet said it was good to see the community support at the march.
Although no major developments have emerged in the investigation, Mr. Mandamin’s mother Pat Osawamick said there was more community support this year than ever before.
“Whatever happened, we’re willing to forgive. You have to go on with your life,” said Ms. Osawamick, who said the process of accepting her son’s death has been challenging.
“I know in my life, I have to forgive. I can’t carry that for the rest of my life. If I do, I might get sicker,” she said.
The family adopted a reconciliatory tone for this year’s march. Many wore shirts with Mr. Mandamin’s picture on the front and a message on the back read “faith over fear. We must be brave together with love.”
“Silence is not a good thing because it harms one’s health. Healing, in reflection of the Seven Grandfather Teachings, will go a long way to the point where there is justice. I believe things will get better for (anyone who knows about the death) when they’re able to speak their truth,” said Ms. Fox-Recollet, adding that the community-based justice system would have a good chance of bringing healing and justice to the family.
Relatives and community members said there were signs from nature that Mr. Mandamin’s spirit was with them that day; including when two rainbows hung over the group during the sunrise ceremony that morning.
Wikwemikong Tribal Police Service (WTPS) is conducting the investigation. Detective Sergeant Todd Fox was at the march and said his force’s crime reduction unit was in the process of transitioning to the file after receiving it in July. The unit members are in the process of completing a full review of the file.
“We’re still collecting interviews from people that are calling, so we’re not putting things on the shelf. We’re definitely locating people that come forward with information and we’re interviewing,” he said.
Detective Sergeant Fox said he hoped that events such as this would raise awareness of the issue and encourage those holding vital information to come forth.
“Hopefully they dig deep into their teachings, our teachings, and they get that bravery within them to come forward, to be honest, to tell the truth with love and compassion. Because the family is at the stage where they want to forgive and they just want closure. We’ll do our best to look for those answers,” he said.
The family thanked the many Wiikwemkoong departments that supported the march alongside several businesses in the First Nation and on Manitoulin Island. Miigwaans Osawamick-Sagassige and Corey Jacobs carried staffs and the Ministry of the Attorney General’s Indigenous justice department also offered support.
There is a reward of up to $50,000 for any information that may help solve the case of Anthony ‘Antz’ Mandamin’s death.
Anyone with information about any responsible person(s) in this incident, including witnesses, should immediately contact the Ontario Provincial Police at 1-888-310-1122, the Wikwemikong Tribal Police Service at 705-859-3141 or their nearest police authority.
For those who wish to remain anonymous, call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477 (TIPS) or submit information online at SudburyCrimestoppers.com.