By: Damon Hunter
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