An Overview of the 2013 Anishinaabemowin-Teg Conference
by Martina Osawamick
The Anishinaabemowin Teg conference brought together Sault Ste Marie tribal people, First Nations leaders, elders, educators, professionals and youth. The theme of this year’s conference was Zaagtoodaa Tikamseying Neyaab: "Let’s love Our Crossing in Honour of Our Leader Tecumseh." It is truly the largest Anishinaabemowin language conference in North America.
The conference began early each morning, in the traditional way of our people, at a sunrise pipe ceremony with all Eagle Staffs present. Before the presentations began we had a Grand Opening Ceremony with the procession of the Eagle Staffs. A-Teg Staff carrier was Elder Senate member Frank Odjig followed by Bobby Corbiere who carried the Wikwemikong Heritage Staff. The Sault Ste. Marie Tribal Eagle community Staff was carried by Les Ailing, and Gras Shipman carried the Three Fires Confederacy Eagle Staff. The opening blessing was given by Ateg Elder senate Rose Marie Trudeau. A welcome speech was given by Garden River Chief Lyle Sayers. AFN National Chief Shawn Atleo’s letter of welcome was read by Ateg’s Management Agent Janis Fairbanks. Sault Ste. Marie Tribal Chairman, Aaron Payment made his remarks via a pre-recorded message. Ron Yellowman gave a brief history on Tecumseh.
An informative Keynote presentation on Tecumseh and the war of 1812 was given by historian Alan Corbiere. Not only did he talk about Tecumseh, he also talked about all of our Anishinaabek warriors. It is so important for all of us to know who our ancestors were and how they fought to keep our culture and our language. Throughout his speech he read passages in Anishinaabemwoin which he translated with his father.
There are many people to thank for their dedication to Anishinaabemowin. On behalf of the 2013 Anishinaabemowin-Teg language Conference, we extend a special gchi-miigwech from the A-Teg Board to our Elders senate and Youth Council.
We are also grateful for all the Volunteers who worked tirelessly to make the conference happen. We honored these individuals for all their hard work at the Thursday evening feast.
Sault Ste. Marie tribal members such as Cultural coordinator Cecil Pavlot and Les Ailing helped in getting the sacred fire lodge built with Ron Yellowman and the fire keeper, Mike Hodson from Batchewana who kept the fire going the 4 days, with helpers Karaka Osawamick, Brad Webkamigad and others.
To our Elders who honored the day and participants with sunrise ceremonies each morning, miigwech goes to Jerry Otawajiwan, Larry Smallwood, Keith Bossineau, and George Martin.
Miigwech to the coordinators: Registrations: Sophie Corbiere, Youth: Will Morin, Children’s: Liz Osawamick. Volunteers: Stella Rose Osawamick, Cultural Component: Ron Yellowman, Silent Auction: Violet Toulouse and our utmost gratitude to Ateg’s Management Agent Janis Fairbanks who has done the work of the event coordinator in getting this conference organized.
Miigwech to the web-site Managers Stacie Sheldon and Margaret Noodin.
Anishinaabemowin Teg is grateful for the welcoming messages in our program from AFN National Chief Shawn Atleo, Grand Chief Pat Madahbee, Mayor of Sault Ste Marie Michigan Antony G. Bosbous, and Mayor of Sault Ste Marie Canada, Debbie Amaroso.
Gratitude goes out to all who sponsored Ads in our conference booklet as well to those who sponsored tables for the banquet especially the Union of Ontario Indians who sponsored two tables.
Thank you to all the artisans in our Craft Room who demonstrated their skills to eager learners and miigwech to all the vendors who come every year to help support our conference.
Gratitude to the Soo Michigan Tribal drum carried by Henry Lewis. The drum was present at that Grand Opening Ceremony and was joined by other drums the other drums at the Social on Saturday evening. Cecil Pavlot took care of the closing song on Sunday.
Gratitude goes to Kewadin Hotel Conference Staff for being the host for the last 13 years; much appreciation goes to managers Todd, Kim, Stephanie, Vicky and all the others who helped during the feast. Kewadin was able to accommodate the feast in the Dream Makers Theater as well as our Sacred Fire lodge.
Thanks to the Tribal coordinator Cecil Pavlot in assisting the preparation of the traditional feast at Neganigiizhig Cultural Centre and also to Kewadin Hotel staff for transporting of the food to the Dream Makers site. Miigwech to Rene Shipman, the Tribal cook who prepared the food and to Kewadin for their generous donation of the fish, corn, and roasted potatoes.
Again one of our highlights was the Banquet evening. This year Lisa Odjig danced behind the A-Teg eagle Staff carried by Veteran Will Morin and followed by Elder Shirley Williams and President Martina Osawamick. As the Honor song was sung, the Memorial Scholarship recipients proudly followed along with the entire A-Teg Board of Directors. What a grand entrance!
The Students prepared their speeches and hearing them speak in Anishinaabemowin shows that their effort are enhancing our language. Miigwech goes to the Memorial families for the monetary donations towards the awards for the scholarship evening. Thanks to the Hand Drum and singers Ron Yellowman and Pres Altiman who did the Honour Song for the Scholarship Recipients. The blessing was given by Elder Shirley Williams. After all the Scholarships were done, Wikwemikong’s two-time world champion hoop dancer showed her amazing talents. Miigwech goes out to Lisa Odjig.
Thanks as well to the entertainers who sang on Thursday including Helen and David Fuhst. Ruby John played fiddle accompanied by Jaach Trudeau and Suntan Fran Mishibnijma. Also to the young singers Natalie Restoule and Theo Blackbird John, thanks for sharing your talents.
Thanks to the drummers and four drums who attended the Saturday evening social event and the dancers who danced all evening long. What an awesome evening. Miigwech goes to the Social Organizers for the Saturday evening, to the Shawanda Family, especially Maheengun who served as emcee and to Liz and Brad Webkamigad who also helped.
Miigwech to the photographers, Bruno Henry, Calvin Hartwig and Gordie Odjig who covered the events of a conference of this magnitude.
To all the presenters a job well done, Gchi Miigwech!
We are so grateful for a successful conference.
At the end of the 19th conference the we reflect upon, and thank the individuals, schools, colleges, Native Agencies, First Nations, Tribal Governments and the Union of Ontario Indians who have supported us through two decades of important ground breaking work to preserve Anishinaabemowin.
Your contributions to A-Teg help the survival of endangered languages. This is a critical time. The number of elder speakers is diminishing rapidly while the interest from potential younger speakers increases dramatically each year. It is urgent that we capture this moment to maximize Anishinaabemowin language use.
Again Miigwech again to all the children, youth, adults and elders who attended. It was truly a "magical time" filled with visiting and learning all weekend.
Miigwech to the people that did the closing ceremony and especially to young Garrett Peltier who did an Honor Song with his new hand drum before the Closing song was sung by the Community Tribal Drum. Miigwech to that drum for also awakening another hand drum before the Eagle Staff carriers, Will Morin, Les Ailment, Gras Shipman and Harvey Trudeau headed to the Sacred Fire Lodge for the final part of the closing.
We know everyone enjoyed themselves and we encourage you to plan for next year’s conference. In 2014 we will mark 20 years of Anishinaabemowin-Teg as a Charitable Non-Profit Organization. Our theme will be:
Niizhtana Nsa-biboon Gii-bi-bimoseyaang Anishinaabemowin:
Shkweyaang-naabiing miinwaa Niigaan-naabiing
A Twenty Year Journey of Language: Looking Back and Looking Forward
The "Extravaganza" will happen at KEWADIN convention Centre at Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan so mark your calendars for next March 27-30 2014.