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COLUMN: New website brings local Indigenous story to life

Local Truth and Reconciliation Roundtable has helped bring 'story that needs to be told' into virtual world that highlights its animate nature
gojijing graphic for monague column
The local First Nations stories come to life on a user friendly website:

Grains of sand have washed up along the shores of Gojijing (Goh-jih-jing), Lake Couchiching, for countless millennia. They have constantly churned, forged, shaped and reshaped the ancient shoreline.

Over and over the current has changed the land until one day when we stop to notice the magnificence, the magic appears to have occurred overnight.

Wrapped up in the vastness of that time are the stories of the land and the people who moved with that change. Living it, breathing it, being another part of it.

The Indigenous Nations carry that story. And even today, they tell of it. Traditionally, Indigenous people gathered together during the winter months and stories and teachings were passed on from generation to the next.

Stories are living things in the world view of Indigenous people. The living stories of our region can be seen and heard today.

Gojijing is what the Anishinaabeg (Ah-nish-in-aw-beg) named Lake Couchiching. And if you go online and Google Gojijing you will find a link to a user-friendly website.

There, you are welcomed to a kikendaasogmig (Kik-ehn-daws-sug-mihg), a (our) place for knowledge. Here, our stories come to life.

You are immediately welcomed into this new world of ancient knowledge by the gentle voice of Anishinaabe Elder/Knowledge Keeper John Rice of Wasauksing First Nation. He brings us into this new world in a good and safe way. We are free to explore. Free to learn. Free to come and go as we please.

Clicking on this this virtual world of Indigenous knowledge leads you into additional portals that give us the Seven Grandfather teachings. Each of the seven teachings are also portals and they lead us into an array of videos, websites, and teaching resources. One could spend hours navigating through these links and increasing their knowledge of the Indigenous People of this region and Canada.

The Gojijing Truth and Reconcilation Project is an ongoing effort and it is the culmination of a collaborative effort between volunteers from the Indigenous and non-Indigenous community.

In September 2019, Senator Gwen Boniface asked myself, Elder Lorraine McRae of Rama, and Elder John Rice of Wasauksing First Nation to sit with her along with three non-Indigenous elders: famed pianist Michael Jones, the late Austin Clarkson, and his wife Beverley.

By connecting with the local school board, Senator Boniface also enlisted the help of some of our youth in the community as well. Richard Jones, Stewart King, and Rhiannon Monague (my daughter), provided enlightening perspectives ensuring the youth were well represented. Together, we brainstormed what would become the Gojijing Truth and Reconciliation Roundtable: a collection of volunteers from all walks of life including Mayors and Chiefs.

Story is important. How that story is told is equally as important. This region has a story that needs to be told. It is a living story and making it a virtual story highlights its animate nature. This is the story of the people and the land. Connect yourself and become a part of that story.

Jeff Monague is a former Chief of the Beausoleil First Nation on Christian Island, former Treaty Research Director with the Anishnabek (Union of Ontario Indians), and veteran of the Canadian Forces. Monague, who taught the Ojibwe language with the Simcoe County District School Board and Georgian College, is currently the Superintendent of Springwater Provincial Park. His column appears every other Monday.


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