Our People and Their Stories
Chief John Baptiste Dufond
Chief Dufond was born in 1842 on the shores of Baptiste Lake, where he lived his entire life. His life as the leader of the Bear Clan (“The People of the Swallows”), which was part of the Algonquin Madaouskarini Band, provides a vivid glimpse into earlier times. Chief John, who was probably the last to live on his skills in hunting and trapping, led his people during the summers to harvest and gather for building a larder for winter months, mostly on the west side of Algonquin Park. The area was rich with wild game. During this period, surveyors first traveled the waters of the Madawaska and York Rivers. The Chief provided assistance as a guide while the surveyors sought out timber and other resources for the European people. He provided help and equipment, including canoes, traps, snowshoes, sleighs and cooking utensils, and with his wife nursed the visitors when they became ill. Some Algonquins moved to Golden Lake when the reservation was established but Chief John resisted. His legacy lives on today and many of his descendents live in the area around Maynooth, Ontario, where he is buried, as the Algonquin Nation Kijicho Manito.
Ada Tinney is an Algonquin elder and member of the Algonquin Nation Kijicho Manito, a community living in the Bancroft area. She is a granddaughter (three times removed) of Kijicho Manito, a Nipissing chief who lived in earlier times on the shores of Baptiste Lake with his Algonquin wife. Ada is dedicated to reinvigorating native culture in the Bancroft area. She has won many awards for her work in native crafts, which include stained glass art, wood carvings and works with soap stone. Among her many community activities, she teaches native culture in local schools and volunteers her time for many other worthwhile activities, working at the art gallery, and organizing events. She holds drumming sessions twice a month and teaches drum making in schools. Ada is a great asset to her community and has worked diligently to support the continuing efforts to forge a treaty to settle the Algonquin land claim. Gardening is one of Ada’s passions, with her yard containing many wild flowers that blend with other works of nature. She practices native values as a kind, compassionate and generous person, who shares her talents with anyone interested in learning them.
Jennifer Montgomery, B.Sc
Born and raised in Pembroke, Jennifer is a member of Bonnechere Algonquin First Nation. She completed a Bachelor of Science, majoring in Wildlife Biology in 2006 at the University of Guelph, and then worked in Ottawa for the Canadian Food Inspection Agency before returning to Guelph to enter the Ontario Veterinary College in the fall of 2007 to study veterinary medicine. Jennifer expects to graduate in 2011 after completing Guelph’s four-year Doctor of Veterinary Medicine Program. She is actively involved in several areas of university life, including being the Vice President of the Zoo, Exotic and Wildlife club. Jennifer plans to return to Eastern Ontario once she graduates.
Anthony (August) Commanda
At 77, August remains a respected elder and leader in his Pikwàkanagàn community. During the 2008 hunting season, he led 22 others in the hunt, harvesting 22 deer. Born at Pikwàkanagàn, he started hunting when he was 16 and is respected for his skills in hunting, managing a trapline and fishing. August was a Recipient of the 2003 Anishinabek Lifetime Achievement Awards. August received the award in recognition of his skills in the bush and his generosity at passing those skills on to others. Many hunters and trappers in the community have learned from the lifelong skills that August has accumulated over his years in the bush. August is a respected elder with skills that many consider a dying native art.
A debt is owed to the late Matt Bernard for ensuring that the knowledge and skill required to build birch bark canoes has been preserved. Matt first gained prominence among Algonquins when he became Chief of the Algonquins at Pikwàkanagàn from 1903-05 and then again from 1909-25. But his lasting contribution ensures the survival of the techniques used to make canoes using birch bark. Native People have used the birch bark canoe as a mode of transportation for thousands of years. Cultural teachings of birch bark canoe making have been passed down from generation to generation, but in modern times this knowledge is slowly being eroded. This is due, in part, to a lack of materials necessary for the building of birch bark crafts and an encroachment of traditional values by modern technology. Birch bark canoes are sewed with spruce roots and rendered waterproof by the application of heated spruce resin and grease. In the 1950s, Bernard and his son Mike were renowned for their expertise. The Museum of Civilization in Ottawa has honored Bernard and the birch bark canoe builders of the Golden Lake community. An exhibition illustrates the story of the largest birch bark canoe ever built, now permanently on display at the Museum, and describes the canoe’s one and only voyage in September 1957. It also examines the lives of the people involved in the building of it, including other skilled craftsmen such as the late Dan Sarazin and his son the late Stanley, whose sons Greg and Tom and nephew, Dave Sarazin along with the late Percy Commanda are highly respected canoe builders. This exhibit is dedicated to those artisans who maintained their cultured craftsmanship and kept this knowledge alive and available for today's generation. Bernard is great grandfather of Chief Richard Zohr of the Bonnechere Algonquin First Nation, currently serving as ANR.
Bernadette (Bernard) Bailey
Bernadette’s father was Matt Bernard (see above) and she was the youngest of his eight children. Her life story (“Both Sides of the River”) is a narrative about tougher times, but an unfailing focus on the importance of family and respecting Native heritage and customs. She married Jack Bailey in 1941 and they had six children of their own and adopted another. Among many contributions to preserving the Algonquin way, she helped establish the Metis and Non-Status Indian Association for off-reserve natives. The group helped many families get their own homes. Her children continue to play important roles in enhancing Algonquin cultural and public affairs. Her daughter, Aimee, is interested in Native history and the traditions of Native life, and is Executive Director of Omàmiwinini Pimàdjwowin, which is focused on restoring Algonquin cultural traditions. Her grandson, Richard, is an elected ANR and Chief of the Bonnechere Algonquin First Nation. A Plaque was awarded to Bernadette in 2006 that says: “In honor of one elder who continues to strengthen and maintain traditional family values and uphold the vision of a united Algonquin Nation.”
Gord McMillan (“Trapper Man”)
Gord McMillan has lived all his life around Golden Lake hunting, fishing and trapping. He may have become one of Canada’s best-known outdoorsman when he is featured in a series for Wild TV in 2010. Gord will be the main character in a series to be known as Trapper Man. He has a very detailed knowledge of the bush, operating his own trap line for many years, catching beaver and muskrats in a 15-square mile trapping zone near his home. It’s a good business for Gord, who also acts as a guide for bear hunters and offering bush tours for nature lovers, photographers, animal trackers and birdwatchers. With his family, he operates the McMillan’s Cabins Resort on Golden Lake.
The late Anna Whiteduck was the first woman chief of the Algonquins at Pikwàkanagàn, elected in 1959 at the tender age of 24. Her election at such a young age also gave her the distinction of being the youngest serving chief in the history of the community. In addition to her tenure on council, Anna served as a school board trustee for the Renfrew County Roman Catholic Separate School Board for several years. Her most lasting contribution to Pikwàkanagàn’s political affairs will be from the fact that her two sons – Robert and Kirby – followed in her footsteps as chief. Robert served as chief in 1993 and again in 1995, while Kirby is current head of the Algonquins at Pikwàkanagàn, having been elected in 2004 and again in 2008.
Cliff Meness is a lover of fine old cars and has re-modeled a number of antique and retro vehicles. He has traveled far and wide displaying his cars at shows and meetings. Cliff has the longest standing record for the position of Chief of the Algonquins of Pikwàkanagàn with a total of 12 years. He was Chief of the Algonquins of Pikwàkanagàn First Nation from 1978-1987 and again from 1989-1993. Cliff also works for the community Fire and Rescue Department. Cliff’s daughter, Lisa, has also served as Chief.
Kirby Whiteduck is the author of 'Algonquin Traditional Culture'. Published in 2002, the book details the traditional culture of the Algonquins of the Kitchissippi Valley at the early period of European contact. The book was produced by the Council of the Algonquins of Pikwàkanagàn and the author, Kirby, holds a B.A. (Hon.) in Anthropology from York University. Kirby has been Chief of the Algonquins of Pikwàkanagàn First Nation since 2003.
Lisa Meness, who lives in Pikwàkanagàn and works for Council as funding research coordinator, was a recipient of the Queen's Golden Jubilee medal, a commemoration of Queen Elizabeth II's 50th anniversary on the throne. Lisa was awarded the medal for her significant contributions to Canada, the community and to her fellow Canadians. Lisa was the second elected female Chief in the history of this community. She sat on Council for eight years prior to her election as Chief.
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