NationTalk: AnishinabekNews.ca – MAGNETAWAN — Magnetawan First Nation held a Cultural Teachings gathering on June 14 with presentations by Anishinabek Nation Commissioner on Governance Pat Wedaseh Madahbee and Sheguiandah First Nation traditional teacher Chop Waindubence.
“Magnetawan is one of five communities that are involved in a governance initiative called B’Maakonigan,” Commissioner Madahbee says. “B’Maakonigan is [Anishinaabemowin] for somebody that oversees how things get done by looking at past experiences, what we’re doing today, and more importantly, looking towards the future.”
Commissioner Madahbee says Magnetawan’s technical staff and citizens were talking about the development of their laws in four areas: election reform, citizenship, language and culture, and operations and management.
“And potentially somewhere very close down the road, they’ll be looking at child well-being laws, they’ll be looking at health transformation issues, and maybe justice issues, and maybe further down the road, economic development,” he says. “I was telling them this is not that complicated, you can use technical language like self-determination, sovereignty, self-government, whatever you want, but really, it’s all about how you want to develop your community from your perspective as citizens of Magnetawan.”
Commissioner Madahbee says he told the people in attendance that they are on an exciting journey.
“They’re really breaking the trail and they’re doing a very important role for the future generations of how that community is going to develop,” he says. “This governance initiative is very important for the future growth of Magnetawan First Nation. I was walking through each of those four pillars and talking about what is possible in election reform. Under this process, the community is more empowered to be involved in looking at the plans, endorsing the plans, setting the priorities, setting the budgets as opposed to being left only for Chief and Council.”
Madahbee says citizenship is a crucial issue because the Anishinabek Nation is losing many citizens due to the designations under the Indian Act.
“We have to determine our own citizenship — we’ve developed a citizenship law called E’Dbendaagzijig, that means those that belong,” he says. “I was saying to them, ‘Let’s not practice citizenship laws like we see in other places where it practices exclusion.’ [It’s] really important that we start the practice of inclusion because we know who our families are.”
Madahbee says the language and culture pillar is very important, noting that the Anishinabek Nation is in desperate shape with regards to losing their languages.
“I’m not saying anybody has to learn the language overnight, but we’ve got to start learning a little bit.”
Waindubence shared some teachings about the clans and answered questions from the participants during the gathering.
“The clan teachings we had were just brief, in a nutshell,” says Hali Tabobondung, historical researcher at Magnetawan. “When I walked away from that, I just felt so good. It felt so good to be talking about the clans and the characteristics that each clan holds. It was just a wonderful presentation done by Chop. I’m grateful that he came into the community to spend a couple of hours with us.”
Tabobondung says Lloyd Noganosh, director of governance at Magnetawan, has been holding one cultural event per month.
“Last month, we had a cultural event and [Lloyd] had invited the Little Spirit Singers from Wasauksing Kinomaugewgamik, the school in Wasauksing,” Tabobondung says. “They were singing all their favourite songs and [sharing] some of the history behind those songs.”
Tabobondung says having cultural teachings in the community is a good start to helping staff and any citizens who are interested in learning more.