Ontario Lieutenant Governor pays visit Manitoulin Island

Eugene Manitowabi, centre, greets the Honourable Elizabeth Dowdeswell in the Wikwemikong band council chambers while Chief Duke Peltier and members of the council look on during a presentation of a replica of the sword of Mookamaanish.

MANITOULIN—The Honourable Elizabeth Dowdeswell, Ontario’s 29th Lieutenant Governor, visited Manitoulin Island on Friday, July 29, stopping in for events in Mindemoya, M’Chigeeng and Wikwemikong.

The Lieutenant Governor began her Manitoulin sojourn with a tour of the Ojibwe Cultural Foundation in M’Chigeeng and a visit to the Beam family’s Neon Raven Gallery.

“It was wonderful,” said Ms. Dowdeswell of the artwork and her informal conversations with the local artists and the opportunity to learn more about the history of the cultural preservation organization.

While at the OCF, the Lieutenant Governor was presented with a hand-carved bowl by elder Leona Nawegahbow on behalf of the board.

The Lieutenant Governor also had an opportunity to meet with members of the United Chiefs and Councils of M’nidoo Mnising (UCMM) and elders while she was in the community.

A number of the visits were closed to the media, but the Lieutenant Governor did make time to speak with the press following her meeting with Manitoulin mayors, reeves and First Nations chiefs at the Central Manitoulin Community Centre.

Following the in camera meeting with local politicians, a reception featuring a splendid spread of finger foods, hosted by the Municipality of Central Manitoulin, was laid out to fuel the informal small talk.

The governor general in person proved to be everything one could ask for in a representative of Canada’s head of state, Queen Elizabeth II.

“I think it is important to meet with members of the communities that we represent,” said Ms. Dowdeswell when asked why she was spending her summer visiting communities across the North in what might be termed ‘the barbecue circuit’ if she was a politician. “I am definitely not a politician,” she emphasized with a laugh. The lieutenant governor’s role, she noted, is strictly non-partisan. “But the lieutenant governor’s role comes with the power to convene.”

In that event, her roundtable meeting with local First Nations and representatives of local First Nations focused on “social cohesion in the community.”

The Honourable Elizabeth Dowdeswell meets with municipal officials and First Nation chiefs during a roundtable discussion Friday afternoon.
The Honourable Elizabeth Dowdeswell meets with municipal officials and First Nation chiefs during a roundtable discussion Friday afternoon.

Algoma-Manitoulin-Kapuskasing MP Carol Hughes dropped in to the reception and chatted with Ms. Dowdeswell and the municipal leaders and staff. While the roundtable meeting was closed to the media and restricted to the mayors and chiefs, the reception that followed was open to the media and the staff of local municipalities. A good representation of the municipal administrators were on hand to meet the dignitary and have a photo taken with the queen’s representative in Ontario.

Following the reception, the lieutenant governor departed from her scheduled itinerary to drop in at the Central Manitoulin Welcome Centre, where she was greeted by a number of volunteers and curator Pat Costigan in period dress, summer students and Central Manitoulin Historical Society president, and Councillor Ted Taylor who, along with Mayor Richard Stephens, took her excellency on a tour of the facility. On her tour the lieutenant governor learned about the historical settlement of the Island and how the land had been parceled out to homesteaders in 100-acre lots.

Following her visit to Central Manitoulin, the lieutenant governor travelled to Wikwemikong, where she visited the Mishibinijima Private Art Gallery established by world renown Anishinabe artist James Simon. The gallery’s collection of paintings explores the legacy of the residential school system, indigenous spirituality and reconciliation. The visit was closed to the media.

The lieutenant governor was then greeted by Wikwemikong Chief Duke Peltier at the band administrative office, where she addressed a gathering of community members before observing the presentation of a replica of the Mookamaanish Sword. The original sword was presented by the Crown 200 years ago to thank the Wikwemikong community for its participation in the War of 1812. The replica being presented was created by the Canadian War Museum, where the original sword currently resides with the agreement of the community.

Following the presentation, the lieutenant governor travelled to South Baymouth were she boarded the MS Chi-Cheemaun for the journey to Tobermory. While on the ferry, her honour toured the vessel before observing the interactive workshops presented by Falcon Migwans and a drumming demonstration. While on board she also toured the onboard gallery.

The lieutenant governor was greeted at the dock in Tobermory by Northern Bruce Peninsula Mayor Mile McIver and a performance by local Bruce musicians.