Today (Friday, June 23), I acknowledge that we traveled through and reside in Treaty 3. We travelled through Wauzhushk Onigum Nation and Iskatewizaagegan First Nation. I was unable to reach either of these communities prior to our arrival. I would like to remind myself and readers of the white bias that my writing inherently possesses. Please feel free to comment, correct, or question anything I have said throughout any of my blogs.
Wauzhushk Onigum Nation/ Rat Portage First Nation/ Anishinabe of Wauzhushk Onigum
WON consists of Kenora territory 38B, which we travelled through, as well as shares Agency 30 First Nation reserve on Aulneau Peninsula of Lake of Woods. Information of WON online was very sparse. We drove into the community relatively from the TransCanada Hwy, but were without cell service and had a tough time navigating through the community to find the health centre. Again, we asked some local individuals how to find it. At one point we ended up at Migisi (Eagle) Alcohol and Drug Abuse Treatment Centre, a facility supporting about 14 First Nation individuals.
We then drove to the beautiful PowWow grounds:
When we arrived outside the health centre, I became nervous again, not sure if what we were doing was allyship or not. I walked in and asked if anyone was available to talk. Unfortunately there was not, however Evan was speaking with a very kind and funny staff member outside who noted there had been a death in a nearby community so many people took the day off. He was interested in our journey and told us a bit about the community. He said there are about 200 members on reserve. The community is a 30 minute walk into Kenora.
As we headed out of the community, we passed a sign highlighting where a Residential School memorial was and went to pay respects at the site. Stay tuned for a post about St. Mary’s Residential School on Matheson Bay Rd.
We then drove through to Kenora for some lunch and research the remaining two residential schools near Lake of the Woods: McIntosh, and Cecelia Jeffery’s two locations. Stay tuned for more on these schools.
Iskatewizaagegan/Shoal Lake #39
Our plans always intended to end up in Shoal Lake, ON to meet some family friends at their cottage. Shoal Lake 39 consists of 4 reserves, including the shared Agency 30, shared Shoal Lake 34B, Shoal Lake 39 (in part of MB), and Shoal Lake 39A, where we were- in Lake of the Woods. We drove in on a paved road, took a turn down the gravel road and found the health centre. The road was hard on our little Kia so we headed back onto the pavement and reached the toll. This is the first toll we have come across on a reserve. The toll building is located right next to the PowWow grounds, beside which an event was occuring.
A CBC news article highlights Shoal Lake 40 neighbours Shoal Lake 39; Shoal Lake 40 is a hot media topic because they supply Winnipeg’s water, but have lived off of bottled water for many year. In addition, Shoal Lake 40 is not accessible except by ferry, with talks of a Freedom Road for many years now. *****As I was about to post this blog post, look what showed up ::)
Wikipedia highlighted that Shoal Lake 39 has expressed concerns that they do not have an agreement regarding the water taken from Shoal Lake for Winnipeg citizens, unlike the agreement of their neighbours, Shoal Lake 40. The water taken from the lake has decreased fishing and wild rice resources, not to mention decreasing sovereignty. The community has tried to increase income sources by asking for a tariff to go through the reserve. Many cottagers travel through Iskatewizaagegan to park and then take their own boats over to their islands…
We met a lovely man (and his three dogs) when we parked to take part in the out of sight and out mind cottaging experience, and spoke about our journey. He was very kind and shared that Cecilia Jeffery’s (CJ) original site was on a place called School Point, and that an Elder and Residential School Survivor, who lived next door, had attended CJ. We did not get the opportunity to talk with him but were grateful for the knowledge, and sought out the site. Again, stay tuned for this experience. I will say we were also thankful to spend a few hours with the pups… have a look: