Naotkamegwanning Water Treatment Plant gets major upgrade

Water Treatment Plant exterior
The backside of the Naotkamegwanning Water Treatment Plant while under construction © 2019 Damon Hunter

By: Laura Kakeeway, Naotkamegwanning Band Manager

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.

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Interior of the Naotkamegwanning Water Treatment Plant © 2019 Damon Hunter

“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.

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Curling at the Chi Key Wis Arena

Curling at the Chi Key Wis Arena - Damon Hunter
A curling stone borrowed from the Keewatin Curling Club (© 2019 Damon Hunter)

By: Damon Hunter, 17

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. 

Mentorship is the Key to Learning and Growing

By: Isaac Kavanaugh

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Roland White drafts ideas for the group (Photo credit: Isaac Kavanaugh)

Earlier this month I attended a conference dedicated to youth of treaty three dedicated to the importance of mentorship in college or university.

Six of us high school students from Whitefish Bay attended the Grand Council Treaty Three youth mentorship conference held in Fort Frances at the La Place Rendezvous Hotel on January 11 and 12.

One of the things that stuck out to me was a presentation by Dr. James Makokis from Saddle Lake First Nation. He introduced himself in his language which is Little Boy Drum (Anishanabe name). He talked about his Cree background and how the Ojibway and Cree culture and language are similar, just taught differently and how the language is said. He also talked about the Alberta Jasper Park mountains and how you can see the marks left from the Creator and the great Nana Boozhoo.

Uniquely, Carol Easton the Fort Frances Tribal Health Unit gave a presentation about sexual education. During the presentation they talked about how to get tested and how the Sexual Transmitted Infections (STIs) are all different, how they affect the body, and how to receive treatment.

The next presentation was about human trafficking and how this sexual exploitation is happening around us. Speaking about trauma and survivors, they explained how one can recover from such a monstrous act with the help of support workers and seeking help. They explained that the main spots for human trafficking takes place in Fort Frances ON and Thunder Bay ON.

They did a demonstration on how young girls get caught by the traffickers. To explain, she set up a profile of a little girl (aged thirteen plus) and within twenty minutes that profile she made as an example got 35 friend requests on Facebook from older men, she also said that traffickers will use language like “I can help pay your bills”.

On the final day, they asked us to write down our insights and how we felt. Asking what we would like to see at the next conferences, many of us across the different nations said language and culture. When asked to share from our table, many of my peers asked if I would speak but I told them that I cannot always be responsible for them but to speak for themselves – that they have their own voice and experiences.

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Corban Crow speaks for his table (Photo credit: Isaac Kavanaugh)

Corban spoke of our table’s suggestions on the next conference locations including Kenora and Winnipeg. Baibombeh teacher Roland White spoke saying he was happy to see youth engage in wanting to see more native language. He also recommended that the next time youth be split up so that they can meet each other better.

Isaac Kavanaugh is a Grade 11 student at Baibombeh Anishinaabe School.

London! Paris! Rome! The Baibombeh Anishinabe High School Travel Club

Travel Club members Adam Skead and Ireland Bird with her mother Leigh Green at first fundraiser Bingo December 10, 2018 at Baibombeh Aninishinaabe School Gym (Photo Credit: Xavier Ranville)

By: Marietta Patabon

The Baibombeh Anishinabe High School Travel Club is open to students enrolled in grades nine through 12. In May 2019, a group of 10 – 12 students and four chaperones will take a nine-day educational tour of three of the oldest cities in the world: London, England; Paris; France, and Rome, Italy! The tour was set up through EF Educational Tours Inc. at www.eftours.ca with expert travel consultants & tour guides that help every step of the way. Each student is currently working on fundraising ideas to help cover the full cost of their travel expenses.

As of January 2019, students should have already made two payments and are still fundraising in order to reach their goal. All students are currently working on their passport applications to ensure that they are prepared to travel.

Bingo Dabbers at Travel Club’s First Fundraiser Bingo December 10, 2018 at Baibombeh Aninishinaabe School Gym (Photo Credit: Elena Kejick)

To date, the travel club will already have hosted two merchandise bingo’s as well as one Christmas raffle. The first bingo was held on December 10th, 2018 and raised a total of $700. The second bingo was held on January 13th, 2019. This bingo did not get the turnout the club had hoped for. However, the bingo carried on without any profit gain. The Christmas Raffle gained a total of $2,066. Students and families have also taken to individual hockey pool’s, and mini draw’s.

Travel Club’s First Fundraiser Bingo December 10, 2018 at Baibombeh Aninishinaabe School Gym with food canteen (Photo Credit: Elena Kejick)

Here are some upcoming events the Travel Club will be hosting:

Merchandise Bingo, Monday, February 11, 2019 at Baibombeh School. Doors will open 6:30 p.m. Stay tuned for the Poster and list of Prizes. An announcement will be made soon for the next BIG Raffle with excellent prizes and where to purchase your tickets. Another fundraiser for the club is a cute one, candy gram sales at Baibombeh School for Valentine’s Day, orders can be made at the school. Lastly, the travel club will be at the Family Day Pow Wow, a canteen and a menu will be posted via Facebook.

Miigwetch for all your kind donations and support towards our Baibombeh Anishinabe High School students.