Wiikwemkoong First Nation, Ontario Canada

Introduction to Wiikwemkoong First Nation, Ontario

The Wiikwemkoong First Nation is a prominent First Nation located on Manitoulin Island in Northern Ontario. Known as the Wiikwemkoong Unceded Territory, or simply 'Wiky', this First Nation reserve is situated in the northeast of Manitoulin Island in the Manitoulin District of Ontario, Canada. Wiikwemkoong is an unceded Indigenous reserve, meaning it has not relinquished title to its land to the government by treaty or otherwise. The local Ojibwe placename is wiikwemkong, which translates to 'bay with a gently sloping bottom'. The reserve was formerly known as Manitoulin Unceded Indian Reserve, but the Wiikwemkoong Band changed it to Wikwemikong Unceded Indian Reserve on August 20, 1968. The reserve is home to the Ojibwa, Odawa, and Potawatomi peoples under the Council of Three Fires.

Geography of Wiikwemkoong First Nation, Ontario

Wiikwemkoong occupies a large peninsula on the eastern end of Manitoulin Island, connected to the rest of the island by an isthmus separating South Bay from Manitowaning Bay. The reserve's primary access is via Wiikwemkoong Way, which continues off the reserve as Cardwell Street and connects to Highway 6 at Manitowaning. The reserve has a land area of 412.97 km2 (159 sq mi) and is the fifth-largest Indian reserve in Canada by area. It is bordered on its west by Assiginack township, by which the peninsula is connected to the rest of Manitoulin Island. The Point Grondine Park, located on the mainland near Killarney, also belongs to the Wiikwemkoong band.

History of Wiikwemkoong First Nation, Ontario

From 1836 to 1862, a considerable portion of Manitoulin Island was set aside as the "Manitoulin Island Indian Reserve" under the Bond Head Treaty. In 1850, William B. Robinson proposed that First Nations reserves be created on the Crown Land acquired through treaties. These Reserves were intended to be the answer to what the immigrant settlers needed for land settlement. First Nation peoples would be set apart on reserves from the new settlers. In 1862, most of the islands were again ceded to the government of Canada under the MacDougall Treaty for new settlement by non-natives. However, two bands which occupied the land that now comprises Wiikwemkoong claimed that the bands that signed the Treaty did not represent them, and thus continued to exist as a remnant of the Manitoulin Island Indian Reserve.

Communities in Wiikwemkoong First Nation, Ontario

In addition to the primary settlement at Wiikwemkoong, smaller settlements on the reserve include Buzwah, Kaboni, Murray Hill, South Bay, Two O'Clock, Wabozominissing and Wikwemikonsing. The reserve is served by five churches and two elementary schools, Wasse Abin Junior School and Wasse Abin Pontiac School, and Wasse Abin High School. Two health clinics, Nadmadwin Mental Health Clinic and Wiikwemkoong Health Centre, provide basic services.

Transportation in Wiikwemkoong First Nation, Ontario

Wiikwemkoong Way is the key route in the communities and connects with Ontario Highway 6. The closest airport is Manitowaning/Manitoulin East Municipal Airport in Manitowaning, Ontario. Ontario Northland operates a twice daily bus that connects to other places on Manitouland Island as well as the nearest major city, Sudbury, Ontario.

Culture of Wiikwemkoong First Nation, Ontario

The reserve is home to the Wiikwemkoong Cultural Festival (Wiikwemkoong Pow-Wow) which is held annually every Civic Holiday weekend (first weekend in August). This annual event is touted as the largest and oldest pow-wow in Eastern Canada. Wiikwemkoong is also home to a professional theatre company, De-ba-jeh-mu-jig Theatre Group, which stages and produces plays about First Nations life and culture, within the missions ruins next to Holy Cross Church.