Kenjgewin Teg Educational Institute celebrates 8th Annual Fall Harvest

Wazhi Modzawin Miinwaa Niisiwin – Living and Breathing Sustainable Ways of Being

M’CHIGEENG—Kenjgewin Teg held its 8th Annual Fall Harvest on Thursday, September 21 at the M’Chigeeng powwow grounds. Mother Nature was forecasted to rain, however the sun shone throughout the day with a remarkable turn out this year with a total of 54 educational harvesting, arts, recreation and teaching stations that occupied the entire grounds for this year’s event. Herds of vehicles, school buses to coach buses were easily visible entering the event.

Unofficially, there was a record high attendance with just over 1,500 students within the district, parents, teachers, networks, visitors to Manitoulin Island, community members Island wide participating in the miraculously growing annual event. Students travelled from as far away as Sudbury and even North Bay to attend.

The most striking thing to a casual observer witnessing the large numbers of students, teachers and visitors moving about the grounds was the level of engagement that could be seen, with students asking questions and listening with rapt attention.

Artist Ann Beam of Neon Raven Gallery was a popular stop for
budding young artists.

“This Annual Fall Harvest would not be a success with the commitment from our community partners M’Chigeeng First Nation, UCCMM Anishnaabe Police, Noojmowin Teg Health Centre, The Great Spirit Circle Trail, Contact North, M’Chigeeng Capital Projects/Public Works, M’Chigeeng Health Centre, Anishnabemowin Gamig, UCCMM Tribal Council, Lakeview School – ARP, Great Spirit Circle Trail, Raising the Spirit, Kina Gbezhgomi Child & Family Services, Manitoulin Trapping Council, Manitoulin Streams, 4elements Living Arts, Water First and Ojibwe Cultural Foundation,” said organizer Kenjgewin Teg executive assistant Tanya Armstrong. “It just keeps growing and growing every year.”

The Annual Fall Harvest is an educational event that encourages lifelong learning, noted Ms. Armstrong, adding that the theme this year was “Wazhi Modzawin Miinwaa Niisiwin—Living and Breathing Sustainable Ways of Being” to promote incorporating healthy and sustainable practices.

The event involved the commitment of First Nation organizations and affiliates of the United Chiefs and Councils of Mnidoo Mnising (UCCMM), staff, students, community partners, community members and local organizations/businesses offering a range of ongoing demonstrations, workshops, stations, teachings and booths. All promoting and utilizing local foods, harvesting practices, Indigenous Ojibwe games and teachings such as various sampling stations, medicine teas, traditional female/male drum and dance demonstrations, educational health and sustainable ways of living along with harvesting farm and wild game.

Darlene Bebonang helps students with their traditional beadwork. Ms. Bebonang has long been a bastion keeping the traditions alive.
photos by Michael Erskine

Kenjgewin Teg welcomed back a lot of annual demonstrators with the excitement of new booths who excitably mentioned they would love to be a part of this engaging “happening” year after year. This year there were six new booths well represented such as the sport archery teaching skills by M’Chigeeng Ogimaa (chief) Linda Debassige, an extension of our community partners incorporating their various departments, hands-on filleting with over 800 pounds of freshly caught fish with Jimmy Panamick and his resourceful team, Wild at Heart and their initiative of wild animal rescue and rehabilitation and so many more to mention with hands-down to applauding each one with well representation of their knowledge and sharing with a smile.

A total of 26 schools attended (nearly doubled from last year) from the Sudbury, North Shore and Manitoulin Island District with a total of over 1,511 students.

These young builders stepped right into building their own shelter when they saw older students working at the 4elements booth.

Other visitors came from all over Ontario, including the Sudbury District, Cape Croker, Nawash First Nation, Guelph, London, Ottawa and St. Thomas. 

The fall harvest started seven years from a tradition borrowed from Kenjgewin Teg Educational Institute’s sister institute, Seven Generations Educational Institute in Fort Frances, noted Ms. Armstrong.  “The intent of fall harvest is to promote sustainable and healthy practices as it relates to growing and harvesting local whole foods back to the vitality it had with families 50 years ago. The promotion of gardens and using the local plants and medicines is integral to living healthy and balanced lives for all people and continuing to learn our history, traditions and practices of the Anishinabek people. It is a time to return to our ways and share the bountiful fruits of mother earth with students so they can learn and experience land based learning in the great outdoors. There is always plenty of food to sample, friends to meet and laughs to be had with one another. Based on the feedback from students, teachers and the Manitoulin community it was a memorable experience. Chi miigwech to the Kenjgewin Teg Fall Harvest committee who consisted of Steven, Tonya, Caroline, Carrianne, Veronica and Diana.”

The UCCM Police Services fish fry is always a really big hit with diners of all ages.