Representatives of Batchewana First Nation of Ojibways and Missanabie Cree First Nation gathered in Baawating (Sault Ste. Marie) on Thursday, January 14th, 2016. Political discussions were focused on how the two nations will continue relationship building to create a better future for their respective citizens.
The meeting was reminiscent of historical gatherings once shared by the ancestors of both First Nations. In that spirit, the gathering included a sacred fire, pipe ceremony, gift exchange, water ceremony, elder speeches, ceremonial feast all of which was accompanied by cultural singing and drumming.
The Chiefs, elders and councilors acknowledged shared history between Batchewana and Missanabie Cree First Nations.
Chief Dean Sayers of Batchewana First Nation commented “It has been generations since we officially rekindled our political fire and our political alliance. The settler governments have far too long exerted a flawed sense of jurisdiction over our inherited responsibilities and obligations to our environment, our lands, and our waters. Great things can happen with the further advancement of government-to-government relations between indigenous peoples. We still have our original government systems, we still have our own laws and we still have our own spirituality.”
Chief Gauthier of Missanabie Cree First Nation added “The meeting was a beginning, the first of many steps in rekindling a strong, unified relationship. We are not just neighbours, we are families that recognize our familial ties and kinship. In the future, I hope that our great nations can continue with open and honest discussions. I feel that this relationship is both monumental and historic. I hope that someday soon all First Nations can develop a collaborative approach to resource management and jurisdiction.”
The leadership agreed to continue discussions on overlapping issues and is understood as an internal process between the independent First Nations without Canadian government interference.
The Nations of both Missanabie Cree and Batchewana agreed to continue this renewed relationship based on mutual agenda items and principles of respect according the 7 Grandfather teachings.