The Long Walk Home
The Lost Tribe
Our First Nation members had been without a home for generations. Only one reserve (Gull Bay) was created for the “Lake Nipigon Band of Indians” following the signing of the Robinson-Superior Treaty in 1850. It was not until 1921 that our community was recognized by the government of Canada as “Lake Nipigon Various Places”
Lost but not Forgotten
The people in our community lived primarily in the Ombabika and Auden area on the north-east side of Lake Nipigon. At this time there was no elected Chief and Council, however our community was represented by a spokesperson named Frank Sasines. It was during this period that our people were engaged by Indian agents who changed their names and sent children to residential school. Our community was employed primarily in forestry until companies relocated and families were forced to leave in order to find work.
Reunited: Here We Are
In 1985, our community elected its first Chief. Chief Joe Thompson’s first priority after being elected was to reorganize the dispersed membership in an effort to begin discussing the creation of a reserve. Our first office was located in Joe’s house in Rocky Bay. It was at this time that our name was changed from “Lake Nipigon Various Places” to “Lake Nipigon Ojibway First Nation”.
Auden or Bust
In 1989, our administration established an office in Beardmore, ON. Newly elected Chief Bryon Brisard was joined throughout his term by councillors Maurice Fournier, Raymond Sasines, Aileen Malcolm, Debbie Kakagamic and Yvette Metansinine to begin what would be the first significant negotiation process for a reserve land base. Our community members began to meet regularly and in 1991 we entered into the land and larger land base (LLLB) process. Our leadership focused their negotiations on establishing a reserve in Auden. Canada and Ontario disagreed with the establishment of a new reserve in that area due to its remote location and negotiations stalled as a result.
A Place of Our Own
In 1997 our community elected Chief Yvette Metansinine. Over the next years we had Councillors, Debbie Kakagamic, Raymond Sasines, Theresa Nelson, Clarence McCrady and Blythe Morrisseau. We requested to resume the LLLB process and began seeking alternative locations to create a new reserve. A forestry joint venture agreement was signed in 2001 and logging operations commenced. In 2001, we changed our name from Lake Nipigon Ojibway First Nation to Animbiigoo Zaagi’igan Anishinaabek (Anishinaabek name) and a new logo is created. An elders committee is established and the A.E.D.T. (economic trust) is formed. Our new office complex was built in Beardmore, ON and opened in October 2001. The Agreement in Principle for reserve lands located at Partridge Lake is signed in 2002. Our first video titled “A Place Of Our Own” is produced to document the negotiation process up to the signing of the agreement in principle.
Take Me Home
In 2003 we focused on further development of services. A policy committee is established to review our community policies and make recommendations to the membership. New staff is recruited to stabilize the delivery of programs. Our first annual Health Fair was held in 2002. We signed our final land agreement in 2005.
Miigekapi (It's About Time)
We continue to thrive and enhance services to AZA members. New policies for election, membership and finance are finalized and passed by membership. The history of AZA Elders is documented in a film entitled “Red Willow Trails”. We focus our efforts on preparation for reserve development. We offer our first Annual Career Fair in 2006. We established a health committee and health logo. New Councillor Celine Belleau is elected in 2007. Our new reserve land base is created in May of 2008.