My good friend and Midewiwin brother Waabishki-makwa (Brian D. McInnes) has written a new book about his great-grandfather The Late Francis Pegahmagabow. I’ve spoken with him over the years about this book, probably when it was a mere idea, long before he was writing it. For him, it was much more than a literary work but a labour of Love, respect and rightful acknowledgement of a true Anishinaabe hero and Canada’s most decorated indigenous soldier.
He isn’t just a hero because of his medals or his actions in the military, Francis Pegahmagabow was truly the embodiment of what it means to be Ogitchidaa. He wasn’t just a warrior who stood up to protect his people during war-time, he was a role model and true public servant in many ways. He used his bravery and courage far beyond the battlefield for the benefit of his community and all Anishinaabeg people.
The legacy of Binaaswi-ban, Adik dodemun has been celebrated by our local Anishinaabeg communities for many years, but only recently shared by all Canadians. We remember him through the stories of his family, including my uncle Baimassige-ban (the late-Merle Pegahmagabow), many Wasauksing Elders, political and spiritual leaders, academics and writers like Brian, Waub Rice and Joseph Boyden.
I’m looking forward to reading more about this man I’ve heard so much about. Sounding Thunder: The Stories of Francis Pegahmagabow is published by the University of Manitoba Press and will be available on September 16.
Congratulations, Waabishki-makwa. You make us proud, my Brother. Chi-miigwetch for keeping his stories and memory alive.
The Stories of Francis Pegahmagabow
By Dr. Brian D. McInnes
Francis Pegahmagabow (1889-1952), an Ojibwe of the Caribou clan, was born in Shawanaga First Nation, Ontario. Enlisting at the onset of the First World War, he served overseas as a scout and sniper and became Canada’s most decorated Indigenous soldier.
After the war, Pegahmagabow settled in Wasauksing First Nation, Ontario, where he married and raised six children. He served his community as both Chief and Councillor and was a founding member of the Brotherhood of Canadian Indians, the first national Indigenous political organization. In 1949 and 1950, he was elected the Supreme Chief of the National Indian Government.
Francis Pegahmagabow’s stories describe many parts of his life and are characterized by classic Ojibwe narrative. They reveal aspects of Francis’s Anishinaabe life and worldview. Interceding chapters by Brian McInnes provide valuable cultural, spiritual, linguistic, and historic insights that give a greater context and application for Francis’s words and world. Presented in their original Ojibwe as well as in English translation, the stories also reveal a rich and evocative relationship to the lands and waters of Georgian Bay. In Sounding Thunder, Brian McInnes provides new perspective on Pegahmagabow and his experience through a unique synthesis of Ojibwe oral history, historical record, and Pegahmagabow family stories.
Brian D. McInnes is a professional educator and author dedicated to diversity education, youth engagement, and organizational leadership. A member of the Wasauksing First Nation, McInnes has a deep interest in the preservation of Indigenous cultures and languages and is an accomplished speaker, presenter, and writer in English and Ojibwe. Brian is a descendant of Francis Pegahmagabow, and writing Sounding Thunder was an important opportunity for him to contribute to the legacy of his great-grandfather.