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.

IMG_4854
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.

Advertisements

How I Became a Jingle Dress Dancer

Photo Credit Ozaawaa Paypompee
Okima poses for her sister over winter in her new jingle dress (Photo Credit: Ozaawaa Paypompee)

By: Okima Paypompee

When I was nine years old, I decided to learn how to dance pow-wow. I saw a lot of people around me dance and it made me feel happy inside, but I was so shy. I asked my mom if could ever do that too and she said it was up to me and my own decision.

About a year later, determined to have my own, at a pow wow, I asked a man if I could purchase  this beautiful blue and pink fancy shawl dress. He told me it was $200 but I did not have that amount. Although, after some discussion with his wife and my dad, he agreed to trade with my dad his painting of a wolf and the moon.

I was so excited. I began teaching myself, whether through youtube videos or focusing live when women and girls danced. Fancy Shawl dancing, a highlight in pow wow competitions, is considered a reflection of a butterfly as the girl or women moves her ‘wingspan’ and feet lightly. It takes so much foot and arm coordination. Ever since I started dancing, I fell in love with it.

For years, I travelled with my family to pow wows, competing, receiving from fourth place to second place. Delighted for that moment, I felt my years of practice was paying off  when I received that second place win in the 2016 Grassy Narrows pow wow.

But, I didn’t want to just stop there. I wanted to keep learning. I wanted to dance jingle dress as well.  I loved the colours, the presentation, and the sounds of the cones jingling together. When I danced fancy shawl, I was still so shy, worried what others think. But I didn’t want to be shy anymore.

On my own, I began practicing the dance, preparing myself for the jingle dress dance. I began asking around of where I could purchase or have a jingle dress made for me but the costs were too high for me.

Then, on the first day of Shawendaason’s first annual cultural camp in October, Rolanda Wilson happened to announce she was selling a jingle dress she made herself. I went over to ask her and I was delighted to be able to purchase this beautiful blue, orange, yellow, green and pink dress with copper jingles.

I was so excited, so proud to be able to purchase it with my own money I saved. Rolanda suggested I dance with it at the end of the camp’s pow wow at the Naotkamegwanning roundhouse. Learning about Naotkamegwanning’s origin to the jingle dress, discussed at the camp made me even more excited to have this dress of my own. After the grand entry, I felt the feelings of shyness leave me, dancing counterclockwise beside the people I knew.

Being a jingle dress dancer means a lot to me because I love showing the skills I have learned. From now on, I want to show others how proud I am.

Like with learning fancy shawl and now jingle dress, I want to show my family and friends that I can learn on my own.

 

Mentorship is the Key to Learning and Growing

By: Isaac Kavanaugh

Isaac Kavanaugh 14
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.

Isaac Kavanaugh 19
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.