The Late Tom Eagle

It’s a weekend to remember here in Nipissing First Nation for a number of reasons.

We all should remember that this is Remembrance Day weekend.  We ought to give some thought to those First Nation veterans who have served our Nations during peacetime and at war.

At this time of year, my thoughts to turn to the memory of Emery McLeod, Edward Commanda, Bill McLeod, Tom Couchie, Jim Duncan, Francis Pegahmagabow, Tommy Prince, Ray Rogers, Ernest Debassige, Tom Eagle, Jack Loukes, and Angus Pontiac.  Also, I offer my thanks to those veterans who still serve us today, including my friends and family James Richardson, Terry Richardson, Fisher Richardson, Steve Richardson, Mike Richardson, Sam Hearns, Ron Howard, George Martin, Tom Cowie and many others.  Chi-miigwetch Ogitichidaag.  Your contributions shall never be forgotten.

For me, it was also a day to remember, as I made my way over to our Band Office and spent a few minutes visiting friends and relatives, getting my flu shot, and lining up for my Nipissing First Nation Boundary Claim Settlement cheque.  As I held that embossed Peace Hills Trust cheque in my hand, I took a moment to remember what it represents.

For over 150 years, our ancestors and descendants were swindled from reserve land that was owed to our First Nation in the 1850 Robinson Huron treaty.   This settlement represents a pretty generous fair-market value of the land that was improperly surveyed in 1852 and 1882.  However, with this individual “per capita distribution” – we need to remember that we’ll be spending millions of dollars from our community’s land settlement.  This represents over 30 per cent of the overall settlement and trust.  These are funds that won’t be used for the collective empowerment of our community, nor for the use of our future generations.  We’re taking it for our own personal use.  I hope it is used wisely and thoughtfully – with some thought of how it can benefit each of our families for years to come.