“You need your own space,” says Naotkamegwanning arena manager about upcoming skateboard park

Mary Ann Mooring asks Sagaate Ranville’s questions at Baibombeh School. (Photo Credit:West Ranville)

By Connor Kakeeway

While plans of a proposed skatepark have been available for few months, this past Tuesday January 28, Naotkamegwanning project and arena manager Mary Ann Mooring hosted an open forum at Baibombeh Anishinabe School.

“All this is coming from the voice of youth,” said Principal Eric Wilson who introduced the two guest. The presentation was split into two group, grade 7-12 and 4-6 and had been announced as a  public event of the community’s local Facebook page.

Mary Ann, who is an electrical engineer by trade and maintained many sports centres including the Kenora Recreation Centre, spoke with her partner Alex Man, a geological engineer and trail designer for Scatliff + Miller + Murray.

“You need you own space,” said the arena manager about the upcoming skatepark.

Engineer Alex Man presents the park plans (Photo Credit: West Ranville)

She said the idea and planning initially started in spring of 2018 and that she has since then worked with chief and council. She said she had approved the plans and layout. These plans included Ojibwe themes in the skatepark to be shaped as a snake and turtle.

Engineer Alex Man of Scatliff + Miller + Murray has also built a skateboard park in Wabigoon First Nation. (Photo Credit: Ian Crow)

In both groups, questions were asked on where they would find equipment. They both responded with the idea of getting the older youth to create a fundraising project and corporate sponsorship.

Alex Man is no stranger to skateboarding and working with first nation communities, being skateboarder himself and having created a skate park in Wabigoon First Nation  including making sure the youth were involved.

Baibombeh Anishinaabe School youth listen and ask questions about the skateboard park (Photo Credit: Ian Crow)

In the discussion about maintaining the space Alex also explained that the area should be maintained because rocks and dirt is hazardous to skateboarders. He also brought up bad versus good graffiti – bad meaning unplanned, gang related, and hateful. Good being planned, artistic, meaningful art. Mary Ann went on to suggest a contest on graffiti art that can be facilitated by local artists.

Jazlyn Copenace of grade four said she thinks it would be boring without colour, supporting colourful concrete consisting of the rainbow spectrum.

Mary Ann explained that this will be a good opportunity for more jobs in the community in maintaining the skatepark and the recreation centre which is now the Shawendaasowin Prevention office. Saying the location transition will be next winter, Mary Ann explains that the space could be rebranded to a new business such as a coffee/ice cream shop, with other recreational space such as pool or ping pong tables.  

Mary Ann said they are planning to start this May on the soil and be ready for July long weekend. The estimated cost is $385,000. She says the are currently waiting on a grant to cover $185,000 and are looking for corporate sponsors. Mary Ann and Alex are looking forward to community input to be forwarded to her at the arena next month.

Naotkamegwanning Arena and Project Manager Mary Ann Mooring and Engineer Alex Man at Baibombeh School (Photo Credit: West Ranville)

When asked if this area can be used by people who aren’t interested in sports, Mary Ann replied “You don’t have to care about sports, it’s about family gathering and building character”.


Whitefish Bay youth powerfully demonstrate musical skills and talents


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Natalie Copenace-Kelly, 14 of nearby Onigaming First Nation, sings cover of “Beautiful Thing” by Grace Vanderwaal (Photo Credit: Karli Zschogner)

Live performances and movie screening at Netaawgonebiik Health Centre captivates audience.

By: Damon Hunter

The once quiet healing room of the Netaawgonebiik Health Centre had transformed into a flashing sequence of revolving lights and was cheerfully occupied by an applauding crowd this past Sunday, January 20.

“It was such a good show. I enjoyed it and I’m going to watch the show again,” said Leila Paypompee who brought along her children.“That film really inspired me. My perspective changed on music and history”.

The aforementioned show in question is Rumble: The Indians Who Rocked the World. The internationally award-winning film had garnered the attention of the community journalism trainer Karli Zschogner and willed her to initiate a screening here in Whitefish Bay, along with the opportunity to host a few debut performances from local musicians.

Teddy Copenace
Hanisha Singer Teddy Copenace performs opening drum songs to the audience of 30. (Photo Credit: Karli Zschogner)

Teddy Copenace of Naotkamegwanning’s Hanisha Singers elevated the room’s spirituality with his strong vocals and hide drum. Second to perform was Natalie Copenace-Kelly, 14. Utilizing her self-taught ukulele skills, she sang a powerful cover of “Beautiful Thing” by Grace Vanderwaal.

“[I] was hecka scared but I felt better afterwards,” said Natalie. “That’s why I like doing it, because I feel so much better after it.”

Following was Connor Kakeeway’s expertly played two piano performances, both of which were self-taught by the 17 year old multi-instrumentalist only three years ago he said. He played his pieces ‘The Wind Palace’ and ‘The Night Before July’. All musical performances had generated great applause from the crowd.

Connor Kakeeway - credit - Karli Zschogner
Connor Kakeeway performs one of his two original pieces ‘The Night Before July’ he says inspired by a Japanese exchange student. (Photo Credit: Karli Zschogner)

“I really enjoyed the talent of our young people. Showcasing talent and having a platform for them is definitely needed,” said Rhonda White, 7th grade teacher at Baibombeh School.

Rumble, named after the 1958 influential rock and roll anthem by Shawnee Link Wray, reveals the unrecognized Indigenous contribution to several genres of music across history. The influential lives of these people wowed viewers as their background was not commonly known trivia.

Simple folk music was soon electric guitars and thrashing whips of dyed hair. The film included the backgrounds of Jimi Hendrix, Ozzy Osbourne, Buffy Sainte-Marie, swing’s Mildred Bailey and The Black Eyed Peas’ Taboo.

“The movie was really interesting. I’m a big music lover,” said guitar playing Brody Allen of Onigaming First Nation. “[I] never knew how much influence indigenous peoples had on music.”

The final set of musical performances occurred subsequently to the film opening with Natalie and then Connor with a second original piece. Closing the evening was the debut of the 19 year old, Cayne Kakeeway. Accompanied by community member Glen White on guitar and Connor on keyboard organ, Cayne rapped his own composition of self-written lyrics.

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Naotkamegwanning community member Cayne Kakeeway debuts his first original rap and mixed beats supported by brother Connor Kakeeway on organ and Glen White on bass. (Photo Credit: Karli Zschogner)

The event had been brought to the attention of renowned guitarist, Stevie Salas. Salas has worked among the more larger bands of the rock genre, most notably Hardware. He has also collaborated with music giants such as Justin Timberlake, Mick Jagger, and Rod Stewart.

Both Salas and Tim Johnson, Executive Producers of the film, agreed to answer community gathered questions following the event through Naotkamegwanning Mazina’igan. These will be answered in our next issue.

In an emergency call 911, says Naotkamegwanning Band Manager

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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.”

A Quick Q&A with Chief Howard Kabestra

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Chief Kabestra poses for a picture wearing a comical t-shirt (Photo credit: Damon Hunter)

By: Damon Hunter

On December 4, I had a brief opportunity to sit down with Naotkamegwanning Chief Howard Kabestra. In this sit down, we discussed a soon-to-be-collected sum of approximately $76 million, and of his origins as chief.

DH: Why is the media and storytelling important? Do you think it’s important?

HK: I think it’s really good because everybody hears about what’s going on. And it’s broadcasted to the community, even social media. Why is it important? It’s good communication. Or bad communication depending on how you’re reporting it.  [Laughs]

DH: Was there any reason why you agreed to welcome Karli and Solana (community journalism trainers)?

HK: I had to be at the school that time, and they were at the school. And I said, “we’ll take one”.  I think it’s really good for you guys. Look what they did for you guys. On learning [about] journalism and basic human rights they’re teaching you about too. I think it’s one of the better ideas.

DH: Do you think this newspaper is important?

HK: Yes it is. Just like what I just said, it shows what you guys are doing, at the school and what’s happening at health, band office, all over. And it’s bringing people together, and especially the cultural and language [side]. Especially what the teachers are doing at the school. And [it’s] bringing the elders in.

DH: Is there anything big you’ve been working on recently? Any big changes coming, something like the skatepark Mary-Anne is working on?

HK: The negotiations with flooding. It’s coming. Maybe within one year. That’s a lot of money and it will help the whole community; set up capacity building, infrastructure, everything.

DH: Can you explain what that is?

HK: Getting a new school, or hiring more people to do some work or paying off our bills.

DH: I mean this flooding thing.

HK: Oh it’s negotiations between federal, provincial, and the band. There used to be land upfront now it’s all flooded. That’s when they built the dams in Kenora and every other place. That’s a big thing for everybody because it will get us a lot of things.

DH: This might be a little confidential but how much exactly will this pay if you go through with it?

HK: Seventy-six. Around there.

DH: Seventy-six million?

HK: Approximately.

DH: Where will this flood?

HK: It’s flooded already. That’s what we’re getting compensated for.

DH: It’s already been flooded?

HK: Yes.

DH: When was this?

HK: 1800’s, early 1900’s.

DH: So it was a while ago.

HK: It’s a while yeah. We sued them for flooding our land.

DH: And what brought this to your attention, the idea to sue the government?

HK: It’s been on the table for a long time. We just started doing it. Turned out lawyers and.. everybody knew about [the flood].

DH: What’s your background? Your childhood, your education, your career, your family life or something. Just your overall background.

HK: Overall background? I worked as a protection worker, probation officer, community worker. I went to school in Daytona Beach, Lakehead University, and took some courses at Humber College, George Brown College, and special ed at University of Minnesota. And I’ve taken all the modules to be a protection worker and every kind of certificate.

DH: Has anything ever gotten in your way?

HK: In what way?

DH: Stopped you from pursuing this whole chief thing. Anything substantial?

HK: No not really. Nothing.

What do you value in a community newspaper?

Isaac Kavenaugh note taking Nov 29. Karli Zschogner

Thursday November 29th, 2018

By Isaac Kavanaugh

Today Naotkamegwanning Mazina’igan’s current team, Karli Zschogner, Ian Crow, Damon Hunter hosted a resource meeting at Wiisinin Cafe. With a free lunch provided by Zschogner, everyone was welcome to attend to give their thoughts and ideas on how the newspaper is important and how it has value.

Invites were sent out by emails, poster copies, and public invites on social media.

The nine attendees, four of which were representing different organizations, the Naotkamegwanning EMS, Ontario Works, and Baibombeh School.

They discussed there was value in regular organization sponsorships and advertisements to help cover the costs of printing and towards future honorariums to regular contributors.

Noatkamegwanning Mazina’igan is independent and relies on voluntary work of community storytelling through writing and photography. The journalism trainer is here till March to provide training and is looking for more community support to make it last for years to come.

From the first issue the average cost to print was $2.30 per copy which the school has offered to let print for now.

During the discussion the attendees talked about preserving traditional protocol as a valued aspect for for the paper’s vision statement.

Roland White said he would like to see more community input to have a page dedicated to Naotkamegwanning own history, culture, and language teachings.

It was discussed that the community newspaper has an important role because it helps inform, showcase, and regional communication. It was also discussed as a regular paper it would help create an independent accessible space to showcase facts, achievements, experiences, and concerns within the surrounding region.

Zschogner explained the importance of knowing the difference between news, opinion and advertising:

News – contains factual information reported by journalists. If they are responsible, well-trained journalists, they would have done research, verified facts, revealed the sources of their information and identified statements of opinion from those sources.

Advertising – minimal context of event or product, not independently verified or fact-checked, some legal or policy exceptions, advertisements can say pretty much whatever they want to.

Opinion – meant to supplement the news portion and provide for an exchange of ideas.

There are two types: 1) Editorial – statements made on behalf of the newspaper itself; 2) Op-ed – guest columnists or submitted opinion pieces

Tips for noticing: 1) The page or piece is labeled with words like: opinion, editorial, reporter’s notebook, review or analysis 2) The text makes first-person statements like “I” and may follow it up with “believe” or “think” 3) The tone is more personal, maybe with some sarcasm, exaggerations or personal anecdotes.

The next print date is December 13 with a Christmas and holiday theme of storytelling. The deadline for story ideas and submission is December 8.

Snap, Crackle, Pop! Wild Rice Harvesting at Cultural Camp at Whitefish Bay

Elders and youth come together for a three-day cultural knowledge sharing camp at Naotkamegwanning Roundhouse

Kelly Kavanaugh watches a child stir wild rice (Photo Credit: Jazlyn Copenace)

By: Carter Nash, West Ranville, Jaryn Joseph, Arianna Jack

The sound of drumming, the smell of smoke, the scraping of rock, and the popping of wild rice were sights and sounds of pride at the Naotkamegwanning roundhouse.

Dylan Jennings was one of many cultural trainers parching or harvesting  wild rice at the first annual Shawendaasowin Cultural Camp held on October 23-25, 2018.

Dylan Jennings makes a traditional handheld drum (Photo Credit: Virginia Loon)

Jennings, or Maskode Bizhikiins, (Little Buffalo) of  Bad River Band of Lake Superior says he started harvesting as a young person.  “I was probably 10 or 11 when I went out harvesting with my cousin,” he explained.  His grandma, aunties and uncles taught him how to harvest manoomin.

Virginia Loon
Youth stirring wild rice (Photo Credit: Virginia Loon)

As part of his identity as Anishinaabe, he said, “Harvesting connects everything in creation.”   He remembers important virtues such as patience, respect and love.

“Harvesting wild rice is a lot of work, but necessary,” said Jennings.  “It makes us hard and honest workers when we remember how to do things the old way. It also helps to keep us grounded and humble.”

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Karli Zschogner, journalism trainer stirring wild rice (Photo Credit: Jazlyn Copenance)

Jennings said he enjoyed the dialogue between the young people and elders. “It was invaluable to hear the experiences of the elders and the way they used to harvest and live.”

He said he enjoyed being in the community and sharing his knowledge. He was happy that Shawendaasowin invited him.  “The community is truly blessed with so many great teachers, young people and knowledgeable elders,” said Jennings.

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Elder Evelyn Tom scraping deer hide (Photo Credit: Virginia Loon)

The cultural camp involved people from in and out of the community, including students from Kenora’s Beaver Brae Secondary School.

Other cultural workshop activities included community art, tikinagan baby carrier making, deer harvesting and hide scraping, ribbon skirt making and soapstone carving. Daily feasts followed.  A traditional powwow closed the event.

Young participants take part in soapstone carving (Photo Credit: Brayden Nash)

Carmen Bird, or Giizhibabenacesiik of the Sturgeon Clan, is Director of Services for Shawendaasowin Child and Family Services. “We don’t usually see cultural activity event opportunities in our community, so this is one of the things we were able to bring forward because of funding that we have received,” she said.

The smiles of generations with Carmen Bird (right) (Photo Credit: Ocean Sky Tom)

The idea for this cultural camp came from the Jordan’s Principle Initiative. Jordan River Anderson was a young Cree boy from Norway House, Manitoba who didn’t get the service that he required and he had to be away from home to receive medical care.  He had to stay in a hospital, and while there, he passed away while the provincial and federal governments argued over who should take responsibility for his costs and didn’t speed up any process for him to be at home where he should have been.

Scraping deer hide (Photo Credit: Jazlyn Copenance)
Scraping deer hide (Photo Credit: Jazlyn Copenance)

Funding from Jordan’s Principle is to provide students, youth and children access to required services at home. The cultural camp fell into this category.

Bird believes it is important to retain cultural teachings and traditions from elders within the community.  “We can come together once in a while with educators, our skilled people, the ones who have talents, our organizations and our elders.”

She said Shawendaasowin plans to host future cultural camps.

Roland White
Cultural Camp Pow Wow (Photo Credit: Roland White)