The Naotkamegwanning Water Treatment Plant (WTP) was originally constructed in 1998. However, the plant’s treatment system, an Ecodyne Graver Monoplant process, was purchased in a used condition – making it 27 years old and obsolete in its current age.
Detailed designs and specifications were completed in 2011 to upgrade the process to a membrane treatment system. At that time, funding was not sufficiently available to move into construction.
Naotkamegwanning First Nation secured funding for a $2,666,666 sum through the Small Communities Fund, provided by the Government of Canada. Naotkamegwanning FN retained the original engineering company, JR Cousin Consultants (JRCC), Ltd., to update the design from 2011 which had then replaced older versions with a new concept.
Indigenous Services Canada further funded the major WTP upgrade totalling an overall sum of $4,788,376.
Penn-Co Construction Canada, Ltd., was contracted as a ‘tender of construction’. Following this, the project team hired a Project Manager, Ingram Consulting, Ltd. In the early stages, the project team were only representatives of Naotkamegwanning First Nation and Ontario First Nation Technical Services (OFNTSC). It soon grew as every company was brought aboard including ISC representation.
Currently, the upgrade is near completion – with only a few weeks to go. The water treatment plant operators have been participating in an intensive training plan that will continue to carry on throughout the year.
“Our mandate is to move Whitefish Bay operators up a level, and for them to be confident running the plant”, says Overall Responsible Operator Marty Clement, who was hired under Ontario First Nations Technical Services Corporation (OFNTSC).
The community has been drinking water from the new membrane treatment system for weeks. The plant is also equipped with a UV system as a second barrier from harmful bacteria. The WTP’s UV system disables any harmful microorganism’s ability to reproduce by effectively aggressing their DNA.
“The water has never been clearer or tastier. This is because we require less chlorine to disinfect as a result of our new, advanced filtration system”, says Penn-Co Operator Ryan Craig
The Naotkamegwanning FN Band will be celebrating with the community in early summer of this year. Please stay tuned for the official ribbon cutting ceremony and an opportunity to tour the plant.
Mary Anne Mooring of the Chi Key Wis Arena in Naotkamegwanning First Nation, formerly known as Whitefish Bay, spent the months of March and April organizing and undertaking the construction of a coined “pop-up curling rink”.
The idea, she claims, originated from the repeated requests for a curling rink from Naotkamegwanning First Nation Band councillors; namely, Kirby Paul, Rene White, and the former Warren White.
Warren White previously served as a Naotkamegwanning councillor and chief. He served as grand chief of the entire Treaty #3 area. His activity in indigenous politics ranged from 2003-2018.
He remembers the previous existence of a curling rink in Naotkamegwanning. He describes it being long in structure with a concrete base. The structure utilized naturally frozen ice with water pumped from the nearby Dogpaw Lake.
Mary Anne recalls several older residents reminiscing about the days of the curling rink. She says they’ve remarked on its prevalent sporting role within the township of Emo during the early 1970s.
Mary Anne says the Naotkamegwanning Band, alongside the reservation’s Chief & Council, has long requested the implementation of a curling rink within the community. Though without sufficient funds to purchase proper curling equipment, she says it’s been a struggle.
“They all wanted curling but I just had to keep going back to them and saying, “I can’t do it. If we don’t have rocks we can’t do it… I looked into buying rocks. They’re [approximately] $30,000 so that wasn’t an option for a community to try it. So I wanted to see if we could borrow some, and then see what the response was.”
Denise Lysak, a friend of Mary Anne’s and contact of the Keewatin Curling Club, initially pitched the idea of lending Naotkamegwanning curling equipment directly to KCC Board Director Mike Szajewski alongside other club members, including Joshua Szajewski.
“As a club, we see this as a great opportunity to engage a community that does not have regular access to curling facilities with our awesome sport. Playing a role in the expansion of the game is definitely important to us and we are thrilled that we could play a role in bringing curling to a First Nation community in our area”, says Joshua.
Following Denise Lysak’s pitch, Szajewski then provided the Chi Key Wis arena with curling equipment.
With the Chi Key Wis Arena’s curling games hosted between April 11-May 2, the Keewatin Curling Club’s equipment has undergone it’s appropriate sporting use in a total tally of 36 games between a total of 13 amateur teams.
With each game’s passing, people began to discontinue their sporting efforts. Though, the point of the games was solely to test. Therefore, no loss – only an increased perspective.
Mary Anne Mooring says she would like to try again next season.
On Saturday 19, a local family had gathered a total sum of 39 participants to partake in a fishing derby. The derby was appropriately situated on the frozen Lobstick Bay ice road. With 19 teams of 2 and a large sum of money as the prize, it was reportedly an especially suspenseful event – as suspenseful as the sport of ice fishing can get.
The derby’s organizers, Jyles Copenace and Jolene Fontaine, said they particularly want to fund their daughter Jazlyn’s “Junior Jingle Dress Special”, which has the intended use of honouring her for how far she’s come in life.
Furthermore, the special is expected to be a large gathering which will hopefully help Jazlyn visualize the wide range of supporters surrounding her.
The special is set to happen at the Manito Ahbee Festival between the days of May 15-19, in Winnipeg, Manitoba.
“She’s going to be a young woman pretty soon”, says Jyles. “The people that are going to be helping her with this special are [also] going to be the people that keep helping her through[out] her life. So that’s kind of our way of honouring her at this young age”.
The derby had additionally been held to show respect and acknowledgement for the shockingly recent victims of Canada’s residential schools, especially the ones that prematurely passed.
Due to largely undocumented history, the current statistic is no more than an educated guess. The current estimate for student deaths within residential schools is, according to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, somewhere in the 3,200-6,000 range. To scale, there were over 150,000 Indigenous persons who attended residential school – many of whom had endured multiple forms of abuse.
To this day, some local elders and adults still recall certain events from these schools. One person, in particular, Jolene Fontaine’s mother, recalls the recurring average of 2 pupils per month going missing, according to Jolene.
“I want to honour the ones that passed on, [the ones] that didn’t get to go home”, Jolene recalls daughter Jazlyn saying.
The event had garnered enough attention that, through word of mouth, found its way to Gindon, who has only been a permanent resident of Canada for 10 years.
Originally from the Philippines, he’s now found joy in fishing. He says he was invited to the event by his friend, Jeff Qi from the Bimose Tribal Council situated in Kenora.
Filleting a fish just metres away was Bill Girard, from Northwest Angle #33. In conversation, Bill revealed that because of his parent’s interracial marriage, he had in turn, lost his Indian status.
It wasn’t until April 1985 that the Canadian government passed Bill C-31, effectively ending the inequality set before indigenous peoples.
He claims to have thankfully never attended a residential school or was ever expected to – a fortunate loophole.
On the flipside, his only education was at a university level, which he claims to have obtained through an indigenous-supportive program. He says he regrets never having a formal education.
At one point in his life, Bill says he worked as a tour guide for people from all corners of the globe. He once spent a day with Wayne Gretzky, touring and cooking for him. This was the highlight of his career, he states.
He also has experience in the traditional powwow scene. He proudly volunteered to work in the Pow Wow Committee for approximately 10 years, he claims. Alongside this, he also claims to have served as an Education Board member for about a decade as well.
All in all, the event was a commendable and diverse get-together with an intriguing idea supporting it.
The winners are as follows:
1st – Tag and Jammice Joseph
2nd – Shannon Rochelle/Dale Cowley
3rd – Terence Gordon Sandy and Samantha Cowley
4th – Murphy Kakeeway and Raven Crow
5th – Fred Morrison
Mystery Weight – Murphy Kakeeway
50/50 – Megan Cowley
Skunk Pot – Marcel Bill Girard
Indigenous Executive Producers individually answer questions from Northwestern Ontario’s Naotkamegwanning First Nation following Rumble film screening
By: Damon Hunter
Last month, I wrote about the screening of the hit film, Rumble: The Indians Who Rocked the World, which was produced under the Indigenous film production company Rezolution Pictures. Within my closing sentences, I included the fact that the film’s starring celebrity and executive producer, Stevie Salas, would be answering community-given questions. Salas, a renowned Apache rock guitarist, has worked among Hardware, Justin Timberlake, Mick Jagger, and Rod Stewart. He hosts the music and comedy show ‘Arbor Live’ on APTN, alongside actor Adam Beach.
The opportunity to do so stemmed purely from an email conversation with Rumble’s producers. What you’ll find below are answers from two: musician Stevie Salas and his co-producer, Tim Johnson.
The interview has been edited for length.
Q: Rhonda White, Gr. 7 teacher at Baibombeh Anishinabe School: “I wonder what had inspired the makers of the film to tell this story. How did it come about?”
Salas: The story started when I was young – just a few years out of high school playing guitar for Rod Stewart. I was playing Madison Square Garden in NYC and thought: “Am I the only Native American musician to ever play here?” Once I started to research this, I found out that I was NOT and that there were some amazing Native musicians that I didn’t know were Native. I thought, “The world needs to know about these musicians!”
Johnson: While serving as associate director overseeing exhibitions and programs at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of the American Indian, I was responsible for identifying and hiring Indigenous talent. One of our programs focused on contemporary Native American music.
We produced a symposium with related concert entitled The Blues: Roots, Branches, and Beyond, that provided a fascinating look at the contributions Native musicians made to the development of the blues, including points of convergence between Native American and African American communities. We even featured a concert series called “Classical Native” that sought to dispel stereotypes by presenting the works of contemporary Native American classical music composers.
These offerings advanced my interest in music produced by Native musicians and I wondered what more could be done to increase recognition of their contributions and talents. It was during that time that Stevie Salas first came to my attention. Of particular interest to me was his role as producer of Arbor Live, a music variety show featured on the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network that highlighted Native musicians alongside popular recording and performing artists of stature.
I made a point of meeting Stevie [and] we quickly found common purpose in our shared objective of elevating public attention to the depth, range, and contributions of Native musicians. I then hired Stevie as my contemporary music advisor and thus, was formed the creative and structural confluence that would lead directly to the development of our popular Smithsonian exhibit, Up Where We Belong: Native Musicians in Popular Culture, and the follow-up documentary by Rezolution Pictures, RUMBLE: The Indians Who Rocked The World. The development of the concept took form and shape over the course of our two-year collaboration with several members of my staff involved.
Q: Rhonda White, Gr. 7 teacher at Baibombeh Anishinaabe School: In mainstream media, we are often shown how music has evolved from deep south rhythm and blues to rock sounds, most notably black or African American artists. Curious about their process of tracing the initial Indigenous rhythms, drumbeat, and vocals?
Salas: When people started to arrive in what would become the United States, they brought with them many of their unique styles and culture. Soon they would mix with Native Americans that were already here and from that, amazing things would come. Mixing the Native American heartbeat ‘four on the floor’ drums with African polyrhythms was the start.
Johnson: One of the amazing achievements of our exhibit and follow-up documentary was drawing attention to the contributions made by Indigenous musicians to the formation of various genres, such as the blues, jazz, and rock and roll, which serve as the foundations of North American popular music. Research conducted by Brian Wright McLeod, who wrote the Encyclopedia of Native Music, and Smithsonian researcher Chris Turner, amplified our attention on the Indigenous musicians who shaped these genres and how their cultures influenced the sounds of this music.
Take Charly Patton for example. Patton, who had Choctaw heritage, was a seminal influence on the careers of Robert Johnson, Muddy Waters, and Howlin’ Wolf. He performed in the 1920s delta roadhouse and juke joint scenes, banging on his guitar, swinging it around wildly, and even playing it behind his back. His energetic performances influenced the theatrical style of famous rock and rollers such as Jimi Hendrix.
During the era of swing and jazz, there was a genre of music played in rural and regional venues that had not yet reached mainstream popularity—the blues. The blues is thought to have developed from a combination of African and Native music traditions. Many historians have traced elements of blues music, such as its shuffling beat, to Native drum rhythms and the call-and-response style of singing.
The influences of this music went beyond the Indigenous beat, extending to melody as well. In our film, Pura Fe reveals how Charley Patton’s blues melodies were shaped by Choctaw social dance and stomp dance songs. Another example is jazz vocalist Mildred Bailey who began her career as a cinema pianist in Spokane, Washington. [Mildred] was a household name by the mid-1930s. Along the way she helped her brother Al and their high school friend Bing Crosby get a foothold in the music scene. Bailey later became a bandleader, working with almost every big name in the swing era, and even hosted her own radio show—the hallmark of celebrity for bandleaders during the ’30s and ’40s.
And of course, Like Wray originated a raw guitar sound shaped by volume, distortion, and simple song structures that became a hallmark of rock and roll. He is almost universally credited with inventing the “power chord,” without which hard rock could not exist. He was also able to create distortion, echo, and wah-wah— staples of today’s guitar sound—without the aid of technology. Wray inspired such major rock figures as The Who’s Pete Townshend and Led Zeppelin’s Jimmy Page to explore the soundscapes that have made them rock-and-roll guitar legends. Our film is named RUMBLE, because this was Link Wray’s 1958 hit song, that changed the direction of rock and roll for numerous musicians.
Q: My name is Arianna Jack and I am in Gr. 7 at Baibombeh School. Have you ever been to school?
Salas: Arianna yes, I went to school in San Diego where I grew up. I LOVED school because I had such amazing friends who still to this day, are in my life.
Johnson: Indeed. Education is very important, not only when you’re young like yourself, but should be a lifelong pursuit. Q: Jaryn Joseph, Gr. 7 at Baibombeh Anishinaabe School: “What was your school like?”
Salas: Jaryn, I went to several schools growing up. They were public schools in San Diego. We lived by the beach and most of my school friends were surfers. We even had a surfing class in high school.
Johnson: I went to several schools completing my formal studies at Buffalo State College. They were all good, but I’ve always felt education could have been made more relevant and even more fun! This is partly what led me to work in the museum field, where the transmission of information is conveyed through exhibits and publications and media that help make learning more interesting and engaging, in other words, fun! Just like our film RUMBLE!
Q: “My name is West Ranville, I’m 12 years old, I go to Baibombeh school and I’m in Gr. 7. What is it like hanging out with all these celebrities?”
Salas: West, some celebrities are nice and some are not so nice. The famous people that were in RUMBLE were mostly friends of mine from my years of playing music around the world. Remember, that role models come in many packages and some are not celebrities.
Johnson: I don’t seek to hang out with “celebrities.” It’s not one of my interests or pursuits. However, I do seek to spend time and develop relationships with creative, intelligent, and honourable people of good character, those who are honest and have integrity.
As you go through life, choosing with whom to associate and perhaps emulate, are critically important decisions. Making wise decisions about who to hang out with led me to become an executive at the Smithsonian Institution.
I also live in the Six Nations of the Grand River Reserve, where my friends range from musicians and celebrities like the legendary Robbie Robertson, two-time JUNO Award-winner Derek Miller, contemporary dancer Santee Smith, movie actor Gary Farmer, and fine artist Raymond Skye, to community educators like Dawn Hill (a residential school survivor), wise elders that I really respect and learn from like Rick Hill, Don Lynch, and Ron and Don Monture, and even the elected chief of our community, Ava Hill.
Q: “My name is Kandace Cowley, I go to Baibombeh School, I’m in grade 7. How many pow wows have you been to?”
Salas: Kandace, I have been to many pow wows in North America. My favorite memories are the times that my father and I would go to pow pows together.
Johnson: I’ve been to more pow wows and Indigenous cultural events than I can count. When I was young, I used to accompany my father to pow wows on weekends all summer. He was a vendor who sold T-shirts featuring Indigenous designs. As one of the first to do this, his expressive shirts helped instill pride in those who wore them. Nowadays, there are many folks who sell Indigenous designs on T-shirts and an industry has even emerged of Indigenous fashion designers. Q: Liam Paypompee, Gr. 7 at Baibombeh Anishinabe School: “Would you ever stay on a first nation reservation in Canada?”
Salas: Liam, I actually work on a First Nations reservation. I work with the Dreamcatcher Charitable Foundation on Six Nations, Canada.
Tim Johnson: Actually, I live in Six Nations of the Grand River Reserve, which is the most populous Indigenous community within Canada. I am a Wolf Clan Mohawk and my Indigenous name is Waha:tsa, meaning “He gets the job done.” I take great pride in my Indigenous heritage and truly enjoy my community here. I believe going through life as an Indigenous person helps one to better understand issues of justice and injustice, provides a broader perspective on history, and connects us to our empathic cultural traditions respecting all living things and elements in our universe that make our lives possible. These attributes, when applied consciously, foster intelligence and build character. Please know that your own Indigenous teachings are very important, useful, and empowering. Q: My name is Carter Nash, 12 years old. I go to Baibombeh School in Gr. 7. Hello Stevie Salas, What is your favourite breakfast? How much do you turn up the volume in your stereo?
Salas: Carter, both my 11 year old son and I like music loud but his mom doesn’t like it loud so we keep the volume at a modest level. As for breakfast, I love green chili and eggs.
Johnson: I’m not sure what Stevie eats for breakfast, but my favorite is bacon and eggs. And, in my experience, listening to loud music isn’t as effective in choosing a volume where you can distinguish the tone and characteristics of each instrument. So, I’d recommend choosing fidelity l lover volume. In fact, when professional recording engineers are mixing music in the studio, they are careful not to play the music too loud because they need to hear clearly and also need to protect their ears from being damaged. Karli Zschogner, JHR: In consideration of the recognized negative connotation of the term as well as the geographical misrepresentation to the ethnicity Indian, what was the decision to perpetuate the use of “Indian” rather than other terms as Native or Indigenous?
Salas: That’s a complex answer but I will keep it simple. We wanted people around the world who were not First Nations to watch RUMBLE and we thought the word “ Indians” would grab their attention.
Johnson: Great question! The documentary was filmed mostly in the United States, where the term “Indian” is not considered offensive the way it is currently in Canada. Historically Canada has used the term “Indian” and still does in relation to the existing Indian Act. There are many Indigenous nations within the United States that use the term “Indian” in their own names such as Kiowa Indian Tribe of Oklahoma, the Menominee Indian Tribe of Wisconsin, the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians of North Carolina, the Seneca Nation of Indians in New York, the Alturas Indian Rancheria in California, and many others. And for eleven and ½ years I worked at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, DC and New York, NY.
So, in that context the title works. Most peoples around the world still refer to Indigenous peoples of the Americas as Indians. Within Canada, of course, the preferred usage in terms of style is Indigenous, First Nations, Métis, or Inuit. And you can’t go wrong with using our specific nations names in our own languages, such as Kanienkehaka, meaning Mohawk. Q: Mark Taylor – In terms of our culture and people being at such a low with the changing times, what inspired you to keep going forward even though racism was so prevalent? What gave you your edge to fight positively and to move forward with your head up?
Salas: Mark, negativity is everywhere BUT so is positive energy if you look for it. I refuse to believe that anything ISN’T possible.
Johnson: When I was a kid, certainly by fourth grade, I was already becoming aware that what I was being taught about history wasn’t the complete story. In the United States, we were often required to face the American flag and state the Pledge of Allegiance to America at the start of class each day. By fifth grade, I stopped doing that.
As I mentioned earlier, having this knowledge of being Indigenous can make you smarter, more able to utilize critical thinking in evaluating what you’re being taught, more sensitive to the forces that seek to define your reality irrespective of the facts, and more cognizant of and righteous when you encounter those who lie, cheat, and manipulate to get their way.
Always be proud, know that there are many smart people in your community who have useful experience from which to learn, and design your life to be fulfilling, responsible, and fun!
Great work! Naotkamegwanning First Nation rocks!
For more information on teaching and education lessons on the film see TeachRock.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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”.
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 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.
“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.
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.
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.
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.