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Sagamok & Atikameksheng meet in ceremony to renew relationship
Posted: Jun 15, 2021

Sagamok & Atikameksheng meet in ceremony to renew relationship

Robert Porter, Sagamok Anishnawbek News

 

Gimaas of Atikameksheng Anishnawbek and Sagamok Anishnawbek came together in ceremony at Fort LaCloche on June 10, 2021 to sign a new Relationship Accord with their dodems and Anishinaabe names.

“THE SPIRIT OF THE ACCORD IS ABOUT WORKING TOGETHER” - Gimaa Niimid Mukwa

This agreement between the two First Nations is a statement of intention by their communities to an ongoing dialogue and relationship building, outlining relationship principles and approaches to decision making, as well as key areas of shared interest and responsibility.

The Accord went from an idea to a signed agreement in less than a year. The Gimaas began discussions after they were both elected last summer to their first terms as Chief of their respective communities.

The English version of the Relationship Accord had been signed on May 27 in the Council Chambers of the Atikameksheng Anishnawbek with Gimaa Niimid Mukwa (Craig Nootchtai) signing on behalf of the people and Leadership of Atikameksheng Anishnawbek and Gimaa Gehtigeh Animiki Beneseh (Alan Ozawanimke) signing on behalf of the people and Leadership of Sagamok Anishnawbek.

The First Nations have strong family connections between them, speak the same Anishinaabemowin and share the same 7 Grandfather Teachings. They share a similar, but unique historical relationship with Canada, including that which came with the signing of the Robinson-Huron Treaty in 1850.

Sagamok Anishnawbek and Atikameksheng’s traditional territories also abut with their peoples sharing the lands and resources of shared lands, creating a rich history of inter-community affairs, socialization and shared annual harvesting traditions.

 

EXCITING RELATIONSHIP GOALS

Both Gimaas share optimism with where the agreement can take the communities, seeing opportunities for collaboration and support in preserving Anishinaabemowin as living parts of their communities’ health and wellbeing, in sharing experiences, strategies and approaches to common challenges faces by both communities that include ongoing addictions crises,

With the First Nations sharing territories and working cooperatively towards the pursuit of shared interests, says Gimaa Ozawanimke,”this Accord lets us address these matters together.”

“I know this is a really good thing for our communities,” says Gimaa Niimid Mukwa. “This is really exciting.”

He says that the Accord calls upon the two communities to work together, “to share the strengths that we have, our gifts”.

He also says that while both First Nations will be working together more, this work cannot be done in a vacuum and without their people.

“There is so much work to do and we are going to need your support”.

 

CEREMONY MARKS NEW BEGINNING

On June 10, the Gimaas signed the Relationship Accord in the Sagamok community, this time upon coming out of ceremony with members of their Councils in a teepee on the grounds of Fort LaCloche. The Eagle Staffs of the First Nations stood at honour outside the teepee’s eastern facing doorway.

Both communities’ pipes were brought out around a fire kept by Steve John and ceremony was led by Wayne Southwind and Leroy Bennett of Sagamok and Elder Alex Jacobs of Atikameksheng. Those around the fire shared stories of their people—of families, Elders, men, women, youth, children.

The ceremony is necessary and important.

With ceremony, Gimaa Gehtigeh Animiki Beneseh says, “we ask our ancestors to meet with us, guide us and support us”.

He shares that ceremony had been done even before talks started with the Atikameksheng leadership less than a year ago and that ceremony had played an integral role in the relationship building process.

He says that ceremony will continue to guide the relationship between the two First Nations.

Coming out of ceremony, the First Nation leaders engaged in another type of ceremony before signing the Relationship Accords: they shared a feast of fresh walleye, beans and scone.

 

IN THEIR CLANS AND LANGUAGE

Using their Anishinaabe names and marking their dodems, the Gimaas signed the Accords.  

Gimaa Gehtigeh Animiki Beneseh (Spotted Thunderbird)’s signature is accompanied by a bear paw mark to identify his Mukwa Dodem.

Gimaa Niimid Mukwa (Dancing Bear)’s signature is accompanied by a marking of a loon with seven dots across its back to identify his Maang Dodem carrying the 7 Grandfather Teachings on its back.

Each Gimaa will keep a signed Accord from June 10 signing ceremony in their communities in a leather-bound folio with the logo of the other First Nation embossed on the front cover.

The Accord document is also being translated into Anishinaabemowin and will be shared with the people of the two First Nation communities and celebrated.

 

ACCORD ALREADY YIELDING OPPORTUNITIES

The spirit of the new relationship made itself felt soon after introductions at the June 10 event.

As they became acquainted, ties and bonds began to form. They shared their visions for their communities and what they are doing to pursue their goals. They laughed of times when the communities would come together in sport and family affairs.

The opportunities became apparent and appreciated by the leaders of each First Nation and manifested in the invitations already extended and accepted by each First Nation.

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PHOTOS COURTESY OF SAGAMOK COMMUNICATIONS

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PHOTO 1:

SAGAMOK ANISHNAWBEK - ATIKAMEKSHENG ANISHNAWBEK RELATIONSHIP ACCORD CEREMONY Fort LaCloche June 10, 2021

(Left Side) Councillor and former Gimaa Angus Toulouse, Councillor Lawrence Solomon, Councillor Michael Abitong, Yolande Nashkawa, Councillor and former Gimaa Harvey Trudeau

(Centre) Gimaa Alan Ozawanimke and Gimaa Craig Nootchtai

(Right Side) Councillor Jennifer Petahtegoose, Councillor Leslie Nebenionquit, Councillor Harvey Petahtegoose, Councillor Vance Nootchtai, Councillor and former Gimaa Art Petahtegoose

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PHOTO 2:

Sagamok Anishnawbek & Atikameksheng Anishnawbek Chiefs embrace after ceremony and signing a Relatinship Accord June 10, 2021 at Fort LaCloche, Sagamok Anishnawbek

Gimaa Gehtigeh Animiki Beneseh—Alan Ozawanimke (left) and Gimaa Niimid Mukwa—Craig Nootchtai (right)

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PHOTO 3:

The English version of the new Relationship Accord was signed May 27, 2021 in the Atikameksheng Council Chambers [BELOW]

Gimaas Niimid Mukwa (left) and Gehtigeh Animiki Beneseh (right) 

 

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