We are the Chippewas of Georgina Island, an Anishinaabe Nation located on the southern shores of Lake Simcoe.
Our ancestors were inhabitants of the Lake Simcoe region long before the arrival of settlers. Chippewa Chief Joseph Snake, and his people first lived on Snake Island, one of three islands, (Snake, Fox, and Georgina) not surrendered to the Crown.
In 1830, Chief Snake and his community, as well as two other Chippewa communities (led by Chief Assance and Chief Yellowhead), were moved to 9,800 acres near what is now Coldwater, Ontario as part of the government’s Coldwater Experiment. This was an effort to colonize the Chippewa people. The experiment lasted only six years, and the Chiefs were forced to surrender these lands under treaty. Chief Joseph Snake slowly moved his people back to Snake Island. By 1860, the band had outgrown small Snake Island and Chief Snake moved his people to the larger Georgina Island.
Our people have always managed to have perseverance in creating a new path for our First Nation. We have successfully settled 3 treaties, (Collins, Coldwater Narrows, Williams) in our fight for recognition of displacement and stolen lands, as well as our inherent rights to hunt, fish, and gather. Georgina Island was the first community in Canada to ratify The Framework Agreement on First Nation Lands Management. This allowed us to step outside the Indian Act with our own land code, which has allowed us to take jurisdiction of our lands and natural resources. We have also developed our own membership codes, plus the First Nations Election act which gives us stability in Governance. We are a participant in the Anishinabek Education System, which is an education self-governing agreement that provides better educational outcomes for our students. As a Nation, we exercise our sovereignty through the Chi-Naaknigewin, our Nation’s constitution, that gives us the ability to make our own laws, and govern ourselves according to our own community values and principals.
We believe in living well and good. In our Anishinaabemowin language, we call it “Bimaadiziwin”, living a good life. We do that by following our guiding principals, the Seven Grandfather Teachings. These were seven gifts given to the Anishinaabe people by the seven grandfathers. They are:
More about the teachings…
We value Community and Culture. Our sense of community is what makes us a strong and resilient people, and our culture is what connects us to our ancestors and to the land. Through the Indian Day School policy, and other government assimilation attempts, many of our traditions were lost. We are in the process, through our elders and knowledge keepers, of re-vitalizing our traditional ways of knowing.
Our connection to the land is one of respect. As Anishinaabe people, we have a spiritual connection to the land, and we make our stewardship responsibilities a priority. We have a wealth of environmental initiatives and land-based learning is taught in our school so that environmental stewardship continues for future generations.
We love our lake. Nibi (water) is what sustains us. It is what gave us life and what continues to nourish life. Our responsibility to protect and care for the water is given to us by the Creator and we stand strong together in this responsibility.
Gatherings and ceremonies are what bring us together as a community. Feasting, laughter, and stories are an important part of who we are. A photo gallery of our people past and present covers the walls of our community centre capturing our history and our stories. These photos display family and community festivities and achievements, as well as express our struggle and loss.
Anishinaabe people have a vision of well-being for the next seven generations, as does Georgina Island. This includes economic prosperity; safe and convenient travel; a healthy environment; and language and culture revitalization. Our hope is that all people who walk with us on these lands, the traditional lands of the Anishinaabe, share in this vision as we all strive for and enjoy that good life… Bimaadiziwin.