A jigging Elder was one of the highlights of Anishnawbe Mushkiki’s 10th anniversary celebration: A Decade of Community Success.
“A lot of older people came – I saw one person get up and jig while the jiggers were on,” said Martha Mawakeesic, Anishnawbe Mushkiki’s FASD, nutrition and parenting worker. “And they enjoyed themselves. A couple of them were in wheelchairs.”
More than 300 people took part in the celebration, which was held Sept. 16 from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the Anishnawbe Mushkiki building on Royston Court in Thunder Bay and from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. at the Current River Park on Cumberland St.
“It was really successful,” said Shelley Marconi, Anishnawbe Mushkiki’s human resources manager. “We had a powwow in the evening, we had a barbeque dinner, we opened it up to all the community members.”
Shy-Anne Hovorka, Robin Ranger, Shabastik, Peng Yu, John Fletcher, Frankie T., Ron Kanutski, Robert Spade and Candace Twance and a group of hand drummers provided entertainment throughout the afternoon and the Thunder Mountain Singers and the Shadow Creek Singers drummed during the powwow.
The powwow also featured Anishnawbe Mushkiki’s drum, Thunderboy, which had never left the Anishnawbe Mushkiki building before.
“We have our Thunderboy drum, who brings the community members together, especially the youth, and who is the centre of the healing of the people,” said Theresa Magiskan, Anishnawbe Mushkiki’s traditional healing co-ordinator. “It was the first time out of the building at our 10th year anniversary. I took great pride in bringing him there because he is the one who does a great deal of work here at Anishnawbe Mushkiki bringing our community members together every Tuesday night.”
Magiskan said the celebration brought an awareness of Anishnawbe Mushkiki’s services to many new people.
“We not only hosted to our clients, but we had new (potential) clients that came to our open house and found out about our services,” Magiskan said. “So it was so successful in reaching out to our community, showing them what we do, showing them that we are here.”
Anishinabe Mushkiki currently provides seven main programs, including health advocacy; mental health; traditional services; FASD/FAE (Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder and Fetal Alcohol Effects); diabetes prevention; foot care services; and an Aboriginal community health clinic.
“We provide primary health care needs to approximately 6,700 active clients that come in and receive services from physicians, nurse practitioners,” said Branwen Felbel, Anishnawbe Mushkiki’s clinic manager. “We have an RPN (registered practical nurse) that does clinical assistance and of course all the other admin staff.”
Anishnawbe Mushkiki’s clinic currently has a waiting list; its mandate is to serve Aboriginal people from Thunder Bay and the catchment area.
“Because our resources are limited, we can’t possibly hire as many doctors and nurses that we would like to so we have limited it to Aboriginal people within the Thunder Bay area,” Marconi said. “We are always actively trying to pursue other means in terms of getting resources so we can hire more providers.”
Anishnawbe Mushkiki is currently working on developing a nurse practitioner-led clinic focusing on chronic disease management to better serve the community.
“The NPLC (nurse practitioner-led clinic) is focusing on chronic disease management so you are dealing with people who have asthma, diabetes, it could be obesity, there are a number of chronic diseases,” Marconi said. “It is a little ways away, but it is definitely on the horizon.”
I feel a greater sense of hope and optimism these days for the future when I talk to many of our young First Nation people. There are still many hurdles and...