Nipissing First Nation chooses education over protest

BRYN WEESE  /  The North Bay Nugget

The national Day of Action being organized by the Assembly of First Nations is playing out more like a day of education in Nipissing First Nation.
Perry McLeod-Shabogesic, a Nipissing First Nation councillor, said that while they support other forms of action being taken nationwide June 29 to lobby the various governments to resolve outstanding local, regional and national issues. But their current situation would be best served by educating not only the general public of North Bay, West Nipissing and elsewhere, but also themselves.
“When you look at Six Nations, they’re in a bit of a different pickle than we are. Their issues are probably a lot more closer to the surface, but for us, there’s a lot of things that have been brewing over a good 100 years or so that have been unresolved,” McLeod-Shabogesic said.

We’re looking for support from our neighbours, rather than creating an environment of possible division and antagonism and all those elements that, of course, we want to avoid. We’re not looking for exclusion, we want inclusion.”
Among the issues Nipissing First Nation would like to have resolved are the Indian Land Management Fund rake-off, timber claims, CPR/hydro/natural gas right-of-ways, boundary issues, and cleaning up leftover radon at the Beaucage mine, among other things.
On June 29, between noon and 4 p.m. in the N’bisiing Education Centre, information booths about these issues and others will be set up. There will also be a fish fry, social time and talks by Union of Ontario Indians Grand Chief John Beaucage and Sam George, the brother of Dudley George, an unarmed protester shot by an Ontario Provincial Police sniper in the fall of 1995 during the Ipperwash Provincial Park land dispute.
McLeod-Shabogesic said Nipissing First Nation’s particular situation was, in part, because many of the stakeholders involved were unaware of the issues and their background.
“We felt that a lot of the reasons why our communities, and in particular Nipissing, have become frustrated is because our neighbours are not aware of the history behind a lot of these issues,” he said. “We decided that we wanted to come with more of an awareness and educational angle and maybe, that way, understanding and support would be easier to achieve.”
Leading up to the day of action, a Nipissing First Nation delegation will tour neighbouring councils and extend invitations. Also, neighbouring politicians are being asked to pass resolutions in support of Nipissing First Nation’s plight to resolve outstanding issues with provincial and federal governments.
The general public, too, is encouraged to attend the day of action at N’bisiing, McLeod-Shabogesic, because after all, the people are the ones who can make a difference, he said.
“The politicians are the instrument, but it’s the people that are the power. And we want to make sure we give them enough information so that when they’re forming their opinions, that they have at least a well-balanced perspective on it,” he said. “When they go to vote, hopefully our issues are included in theirs.”
The N’bisiing Education Centre is located at 469B Couchie Memorial Drive in Duchesnay.

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