Recognized animal caregiver: Local resident caring for all living creatures

By: Donna Namaypoke

On Saturday December 8, 2018, just before 11:00 am, my mother phoned me to tell

photo video credit melissa
Jyles Copenace prepares to capture the snowy owl (Photo credit: Isaac Kavanaugh)

me that she’s over by the garbage can in the west end so naturally my reply is “oh”.  She then proceeded to tell me that she was driving and Brian Copenace, who was sanding our roads at the time, stopped her and pointed towards the garbage can and that’s when my mother saw a beautiful snowy owl sitting in the middle of the road.

“I think it’s injured and there are a couple of ravens bothering it,” she said, asking what could be done. So I messaged Jyles Copenace to see if he was in the community and could go and check on it.

She said she would stay there and wait. I immediately messaged Jyles, who was pretty quick to respond and say he would be right over.

About an hour and a half  later, Jyles messaged me and told me he got the owl and that it was  malnourished but should be fine. He thanked me for calling on him and asking for his assistance. Meanwhile I’m thinking, “Who else would I call” but replied with, “No problem”.

You see, this past summer my mother-in-law called and said there is an injured eagle over by her place. After exchanging a conversation regarding the eagle, we hung up and I continued on with my day at home. About two hours later, she called again and said that eagle had moved.

Sure enough there was this beautiful golden eagle sitting in the tall grass. I tried to go close to it just to see if I could force it to fly away, but it didn’t. Instead it flapped its wings and hopped further way.

Not wanting to stress it out, I backed away. I decided to call the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF). The man on the phone  replied that at the moment they didn’t have the manpower to deal with injured animals and that there were many wildfires in the region. He did give me the name of a woman and a phone number, which I called and left a voicemail.

After waiting and hoping that the lady would call, I decided to call the MNRF again. This time a man asked me where in Ontario.  “Whitefish Bay right by Sioux Narrows,” I said.

“Isn’t there a guy there that helps out injured birds?” he said.  I asked him if he was referring to Jyles Copenance and he agreed.  

I said I would see if he was in the community as it was pow wow season, and usually he and his family are traveling, but luckily he wasn’t. Jyles said he would be over as soon as they are done eating. I told him that we would  wait there with the eagle until he arrived.

He and his family arrived within a half hour and right away he said that it was not a golden eagle, but a young bald eagle! He explained to us that the birds look like golden eagles when they are young and that the feathers change.I had no idea that he knew so much about them.

Jyles and his son decided that his son would walk to the left of the eagle while Jyles went to the right and whichever way the owl would move, then the closest one would throw a blanket on him.

It was all very interesting to watch, especially how efficient they were, like it was an everyday thing.  I asked him a week later how the eagle was doing and he said he had it at his house for a couple days and released it at my mother-in-law’s. It flew away without any issues.

As of this morning, December 10, 2018, the snowy owl was released in good health. Thank you Jyles!


In an emergency call 911, says Naotkamegwanning Band Manager

damon hunter4
The door of the NFNPD fire truck (Photo credit: Damon Hunter)

By: Damon Hunter
There has been known confusion from Whitefish Bay residents as to what number they should dial in the case of an emergency. Some of this confusion is due to some small magnets that had been distributed which listed several local numbers stating emergency numbers.
Band Manager, Laura Kakeeway, commented that those magnets didn’t in fact contain emergency numbers, but were purely for office, a non-emergency contact. She says that the number to dial in an emergency is the simple three digit 911.

It was sometime within the past few years that Naotkamegwanning had applied and received 911 status under the band, which Kakeeway was not able confirm.

Though Andrea Joyce of Naotkamegwanning EMS had confirmed the 911 status. As Director of Paramedic Services, she oversees all operations regarding ambulance.
She touched on the specific qualifications for the 911 number. To get it, a region must have all three emergency services – fire, ambulance, and police, she says.

“At one point, [the fire service] was active with us and police as well. It’s just my understanding that they were not able to find someone to run [the fire service]”.

She says her and band manager have been trying to confirm a memorandum of understanding with the Sioux Narrows Fire Department (SNFD) if they need further resources.

She explains that in this region, all forms of emergency 911 calls go to the Kenora Central Ambulance Communications Centre – who are responsible for contacting the nearest emergency services in the region of crisis.

She says that equipment such as the Jaws of Life can greatly assist in retrieving victims if they ever find themselves trapped within a vehicle. A tool such as this is lacking in availability in Naotkamegwanning. The SNFD are in possession of one, she claims.

Brian Copenace of the Whitefish Bay First Nations Fire Department is lead volunteer, but Kenora Central Ambulance and Fire Communications Centre (dispatch) has him listed as fire chief – though he mainly performs vehicle maintenance on the department’s fire truck.

Karli Zschogner and Brian Copenace partaking in discussion (Photo credit: Damon Hunter)

According to Copenace, the fire department’s radio tower was severely damaged in a storm last summer. Because of this they’re unable to receive proper radio calls from dispatch. Reportedly, as of now, they rely on cell phone calls as their beepers do not work.

The Crying Christmas Tree

By: Isaac Kavanaugh

photo credit monica denise
Allan Crow holds up his book (Photo credit: Monica Denise)

The Crying Christmas Tree is a story written by Allan Crow and illustrated by David Beyer.

Allan Crow is a member of Naotkamegwanning First Nations and he currently resides in Winnipeg, Manitoba with his wife.

The Crying Christmas Tree is a story about a grandmother, her husband, children, grandchildren and a tree. It tells a story about love around the Christmas holiday and how not to be so heartless about the things you receive.

As stated in the book, “One winter, Kokum thought she would surprise her grandchildren by choosing the Christmas tree. She went into the woods carrying an axe while all the kids were at school”

Allan Crow said he was 38 years of age when he was writing this story and that he wanted to show that the Indigenous peoples also partake in the Christmas season as everyone else does in the world.

Mr. Crow also stated that the message was to show other cultures that the Indigenous peoples are the same as them in every way and will be like that in the future and that the world does not run on gears and machinery.

He also said that the holiday season is to show love to family and others around you and give someone something on this special season to show that you love and care for them.

The very first printing of the Crying Christmas Tree was in 1989, then the second one in 1993, third in 1998, fourth in 2002, fifth in 2005, and sixth in 2010. Mr. Crow describes the book as being the best seller for him under the publishers at Pemmican Publications Inc.

Mr. Crow recently had a book reading on December 13th in Northwest Angle #33. He said the children enjoyed the book reading and that books were handed to each person after the reading was done.  He said many people remember the book and still have their original copies to this day.

Maria Blackhawk was one of the attendees. In a comment she made on the NWA#33 Community Activities Facebook group,  she said,“ It was awesome, i loved the story and was happy to meet the author. Children need stories and the ones with lessons are the best, i believe that bedtime stories calm children to a restful sleep.”

Bizaa Dibikat (Silent Night)

BaiBombeh’s grade 5 class will be singing the carol in Ojibwe at the school’s Christmas concert.
Bizaa dibikat, shkwa dibikat,

Gakina anwaatin gakina waateya

Gichidoi ikwe shigo anbinoojii

Mini ayaa gaadibenjiget

Gi chigiizhigoong mino niba

Gi chigiizhigoong mino niba

Bizaa dibikat, shkwa dibikat

Maamaakach izhinamoog

Igiwe ininiwag

Waabishkaate onji giizhigoong

Gakina awiyaa nagamowag

Nitawige abinoojii, nitawige abinoojii

Bizaa dibikat, shkwa dibikat

Gigoozisinan ozhaawendan

Sagate gi nitawigi

Nibininigosha giitagoshin

Nitawigi gadibenjiget

Nitawaigi gadibenjiget

Community Events – Dec 13 – Jan 6 -Issue 3 – December 2018

Tues Weekly | Boys Meeting | Health Centre | Contact Serena White |  6-8pm

Tues-Wed Weekly | Right to Play Program | Baibombeh School | 3:30-5:30pm

Thurs Weekly | Girls Meeting | Health Centre | Contact Serena White | 6-8pm

Thurs Dec 13 | Right to Play | NWA #33 Hall | 4-6pm | Contact

Thurs Dec 13 | Family Well Being Program “The Crying Christmas Tree” Book Reading with author Allan Crow | NWA#33 Community Hall | 5pm

Sun Dec 16 | Animkii Judo Club – Last Dec class | NWA#37 Hall | 6:30pm | Back Jan 9 | Every Wed @ 6pm & Sun @ 6:30pm

Mon Dec 17 | Naotkamegwanning Christmas Parade & Tree Lighting | Open to all WFB, NWA#33, NWA#37 | Food & Drink at Health Healing Room | Float meet at School 4:30pm | Start: 5pm

Mon Dec 17 | Yule Log Making | Dog Paw Hall | 4pm

Tues Dec 18 | Right to Play | NWA #33 Hall | 4-6pm | Contact

Tuesday Dec 18 | Health Center Community Kitchen Grinch Treats Ages 8 – 14

Tues Dec 18 | UPDATED Christmas Lights Contest  Judging Night | Contact 226-1026 or 226-5383 to register

Thurs Dec 19 |  Health Clinic Christmas Stocking Contest 3pm

Wed Dec 19 | WWHAC Dental Hygienist | Health Clinic

Wed Dec 19 | Baibombeh Christmas Concert | Baibombeh School

Wed Dec 20 | Deadline to Register: Mitigomish Healing Program Male Intake (Jan 6 -25) | Connect with culture & heal from trauma | More info: Sandra at (807)-543-1065 ext.206 or

Thurs Dec 20 | Head Start Christmas Concert + Feast | Head Start Building | 11am

Thurs Dec 20 | Naotkamegwanning Community Christmas Dinner | Baibombeh Gym | 5pm

Thurs Dec 20 |  Naotkamegwanning Health Services Community Hoedown | Featuring Eagle Feathers Band & Riley Dutaiume | Cash Prizes| Contact Sanda Tom, Lisa Meloche or Caroline Archibald | Baibombeh School | 7pm-12am

Thurs Dec 20 | Ugly Christmas Sweater Contest | Baibombeh Gym | Winners Announced at 7 pm | Contact Family Violence Prevention Program, 226-2603

Thurs Dec 20 | NWA #33 General Band Meeting | Travel Lodge Boardroom B | 9am – 5pm

Fri Dec 21 | Baibombeh School Last Day | Back Jan 7

Mon Dec 24 | Naotkamegwanning Recreation Christmas Eve Junior Volleyball Tournament | For Boys & Girls Ages 11-14 | Baibombeh Gym | Free Entry | Cash Prizes for 1st-4th | Registration at 5pm

Tues Dec 25 | 9th Annual Christmas Day Volleyball Tournament | Males & Females ages 15 + | $5/player | Baibombeh School | Registration 2:30-3pm | Starts 3:30pm

Sun Jan 6 -25 | Mitigomish Healing Program Male Intake | Connect with culture & heal from trauma | More info: Sandra at (807)-543-1065 ext.206 or


A poem from the Book Bawaajimo by Margaret Noodin

Poem translated by: Roland White

Ga onji – Anishinaabemowin
Ga onji – mikwendaagoziyan
Ga onji-gikendaasowin
Ga onji – zaagi’idin

Enendamowinan imaa ode’ing
Bawaajige gakina go ga- odaanimog
Giwii aadasokimin, giwii nagamomin, giwii nimiidimin, owe gaye ezhi- Anishinaabe bemaadizid
Gakina bimaadiziyad miinaa awensiiwag owaabandaanaawaa biidaasiigonigek

Naawiyiing misko- biidaabang idash ani misko- bangishimong
Naawiying giizis idash owe dibikii- giizis
Naawiying mandioog idash wiindigoog

Naawiying awang idash aanakwanong mii ji- mikaamaan gido’ojichaakan

Biindigen, wenweni bizindaamong, mino- bimaadiziig

Come In: We learn the Anishinaabe language and culture from our legends and in our dreams (bawaajige). We enter into that knowledge from our ancestors in the spirit world. The Anishinaabe and all the animals see the light coming and recognize the lighting of a new fire. We will sing and dance with the traditions of our stories. Listen and Live well.

Mourning Tree (Excerpt)


In partnership with ‘Mourning Tree’ story by Maria Blackhawk (Illustrations by Mariah Courtney)

By Maria Blackhawk

The snow was falling gently on a dreary winter day. In the middle of the afternoon, I drew the heavy bedroom curtains and with the room now in darkness, lay down in my bed. The feather pillow that in the past had softly cradled my head, now felt like a cement block.

I had a headache so severely painful that I cried and begged God to just let me die. I didn’t remember falling asleep. The excruciating pain may have pounded me into unconsciousness. I sank into a deep sleep that provided me a desperately needed respite from the horrible pain.

In the deepness of sleep, I arrived at that place where one dreams. I was walking alone down the bush trails in the warm summer forest, which I loved, especially on clear, sunny days like this.

I looked up to a bright, cloudless sky. With every step, my feet sank into thick, plush moss and my weight forced the water from the moss to ooze to the surface and up around the soles of my shoes. Even though I found myself in an unfamiliar place and in a different season, I was not alarmed.

Deeper into the forest, I came upon a campsite that I had never seen before. It was located in a small clearing and it appeared to be an ancient place that had long been abandoned. The tallest poplar trees I had ever seen surrounded the camp, creating a perfect circle of evenly spaced pillars. I got the impression that this place was somehow sacred, like a church.

In partnership with ‘Mourning Tree’ story by Maria Blackhawk (Illustrations by Mariah Courtney)

I thought about the huge boulder structures of Stonehenge in England. Large rocks that were covered in moss and dead leaves, formed a circular fire pit in the center of the clearing. There were pieces of rotting wood in various shapes that, upon closer scrutiny, looked like they might have been used as tools.

A broken, rotting pair of snowshoes was tossed to one side and a makeshift table had toppled over after its two legs had collapsed. I was fascinated by these ancient artifacts. I picked up the snowshoes and ran my fingers along the dry sinew webbing. I had to pick up and examine every item I could find and allow them to tell me their story.

After a thorough survey of the site, I returned by the path that brought me there. I hadn’t gone far when I heard the yells and shouts of several people coming in my direction. I waited to see who they were. As the shouting grew closer, I realized that I couldn’t understand what they were yelling. The language was one I had never heard before, but the anger and threat in their voices was unmistakable.

Then I saw them. They didn’t come in single file on the path. They were spread out among the trees forming a line intended to cover more ground and make driving and capturing prey easier.

They were the ancient ones, the ancestors, clothed in buckskin, fur, small bones, claws and feathers. They had tanned skin and long, dark, flowing hair. The expression on their faces left no doubt that they were fearsome and dangerous. They were warriors and they were armed with spears, clubs, and axes made with flat, blunt-edged rocks.

None of their weapons contained any metal or modern materials. They were closing in on me and without thinking, I ran back toward the ancient campsite. I knew that if they caught me, they would kill me without hesitation. With every step I ran, the warriors seemed to draw closer.

Finally, I reached the site, and there by the fire pit stood another warrior. He was a giant, at least 14 feet tall. His entire body was wrapped with a large blanket that was draped over his shoulders and the blanket ever so gently brushed the ground. I could not make out his facial features because the sun was shining directly behind him. All I could see was his black silhouette.

I knew that if he moved either to the left or the right, that I would be blinded by the sun streaming behind him. His long hair fell halfway to the ground. A gust of wind would catch and tousle his long strands of hair. There was a gentleness and calmness to the giant dark shape that assured me that it was not threatening. Suddenly, his arms were being outstretched and the blanket transformed into what appeared to be a dark wall. Despite the fact that he had no visible weapon, I was certain that if I could reach him, that I would be safe.

The warriors were still coming toward me in numbers greater than I had initially assessed. Some were close enough to start throwing their weapons at me. I ran toward the figure and wrapped my arms around his waist and waited for death. I looked up but couldn’t see his face. He was drawing the blanket around me in such a way that I seemed to be in a heavily draped circle that was large enough to have a few paces of walking space.

It was also bright in there, like being outside in direct sunlight even though there was no way that the rays of the sun could penetrate this enclosure to reach me. A warm breeze fanned me and softly blew throughout the enclosure to provide even more comfort. But I was still too afraid to release my hold of this stranger.

I could hear the yells and shouts. I could hear the anger in their voices but my protector remained silent. I could see that they were throwing their weapons against the blanket in a futile attempt to extract me. For several minutes the attack continued. I watched with fear as the weapons bounced off the blanket.

In an instant, it became so completely silent that I wondered if I had lost my hearing. I felt the movement of something floating in the air, invisible but present. It was intangible at first but grew stronger with every second. I knew that I was totally and completely safe here and that nothing of man or nature could hurt me no matter how hard they might try.

I was protected. I had never, in my entire life, felt this pure feeling of love, peace, safety, security, and total invincibility. The fear of the pursuers was replaced by the need to hold on to these feelings. The terror was gone and I no longer feared anything or anyone.

Even death was unable to inspire or provoke any fear in me now. I released my hold on my protector and tried to see this growing presence but saw nothing but the glimmering brightness of the enclosure. I never wanted to leave this sacred place. I wanted desperately to hold on to these feelings that were so overwhelming, I would have gladly given up my life to keep them.

It was so completely overpowering that I knew I would never have to miss or worry about those I loved and would be leaving behind. I had the unmistakable impression that this veil of protection would shield my loved ones from harm also. I wanted to stay there forever but somehow knew that I would not be allowed to remain.

I woke up, instantaneously returning from the dream realm. The room was dark and my headache was gone. Like armour, I could still feel the safety and security that had wrapped itself around me. It lasted only for a few more minutes, but I felt it and knew instinctively that I would never feel this again in my lifetime. I knew that no words existed that could clearly describe what I had experienced. I also felt that I had received a great and powerful gift. I thought of it as a blessing.

From this day on, I would heed the messages delivered to me in dreams. The despairing, sickly and frightened child was left behind. From now on, I would face my fears blanketed with something tremendous and powerful.