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Fort William begin construction of new powwow facility on Mt. McKay

Friday August 8, 2014
Submitted photo

Fort William Chief Georjann Morriseau (centre), along with Fort William councillors Cathy Rodger, Philip Benny Solomon, Wyatt Bannon, Yvette Greenwald and Val Chapman break ground on July 21 along with Adam Rose, an officer with Oshki-Aki LP.

Fort William First Nation has broken ground on its “state-of-the-art” powwow grounds facility on Mt. McKay-Anemki Wajiw.

“Everything will be up to date, state of the art in terms of lighting, communication, audio,” said Ian Bannon, Fort William’s director of lands and property management. “It’s quite the facility — I think once it is all said and done, we are going to be very proud of the finished product.”

The new powwow facility is designed with roofing over the drum arbour area, the seating area around the dancing circle and the sacred fire area. The dancing circle also features a raised design with drainage to deal with rainfall.

“The entire ground area is literally raised so we don’t have a water accumulation problem,” Bannon said. “There will be appropriate drainage off the site so the dance area will be completely dry.”

Bannon said the new facility, which is scheduled for completion this fall, could be used for a variety of events in addition to the annual powwow, such as training and cultural activities. The annual powwow is usually held on the weekend closest to July 1.

“The construction and development of the new powwow grounds is just a part of the ongoing efforts to reinvigorate our culture,” said Fort William Chief Georjann Morriseau. “The fact that our joint venture partnership firm (Oshki-Aki LP) was able to head up this project speaks volumes about FWFN’s ability to be a successful contributor to these types of initiatives.”

Morriseau and Fort William councillors Cathy Rodger, Philip Benny Solomon, Wyatt Bannon, Yvette Greenwald and Val Chapman broke the ground on July 21 along with Adam Rose, an officer with Oshki-Aki LP. A partnership between Fort William and True Grit Consulting Limited, Oshki-Aki LP is managing the overall project, which includes concept, design and construction of the new site.

“The new site will offer Fort William First Nation a sheltered and spacious area to come together as a community and celebrate our rich heritage,” Morriseau said. “This is the first of many new developments planned for the First Nation and we are proud that this is a community driven and built initiative.”

Bannon said the facility is being built with funding from investment earnings from the 2011, $154 million land claim settlement with Canada and Ontario. The design integrates a number of powwow facility design concepts that were chosen by the community’s cultural committee.

“When the finished product is done, it will be a sight that we are going to be more proud of,” Bannon said. “We’ve beefed up the lighting and the security in the area, so that once this is done, we are hoping that the vandalism issues are going to be dealt with.”

A birch wigwam at the powwow grounds was destroyed this past May and sacred ground near the Mt. McKay toll booth was torn up by vehicles in 2013.

“For thousands of years (people) have come to this site for annual powwows and celebrations,” Bannon said. “It is well recognized as such and First Nations should be proud of the fact that we are injecting some funds into this, finally, and that we have the ability to do so.”

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As a point of clarity on this

As a point of clarity on this article. The term "state of the art" was mentioned as a point of comparible through informal conversation. The grounds will in fact be using modern equipment for security and potential video streaming but committee members wanted to maintain a positive cultural component to the grounds through traditional design. He further mentions that the grounds have been visited for "thousands" of years. This term was used meaning many past years.
This is evident through historical photographs even going back to when treaty payments were distributed to members at this location.
My intention was to describe our excitement in seeing a finished product that our First Nation is going to be proud of. It certainly was not to portray a sense of competition over First Nations traditional powwow grounds with the term "state of the art"
I'll certainly remember this the next time Mr. Garrick visits us. Bannon should Bannon should not back track too much!I'm very sure these powwow grounds on Fort William First Nations' traditional and sacred lands have been used for thousands of years,if he is not sure of these undisputed withstanding facts.he should ask the Sleeping Giant for clarification!eheh..

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