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Alderville First Nation

Alderville First Nation, descendants of the Ojibway Mississauga Anishinabeg Nation, originally inhabited the Bay of Quinte and St. Lawrence River area that is present day eastern Ontario. In the early 1800’s, a portion of the Mississaugas that would become Alderville First Nation, relocated to the Alderville, Ontario region. The remaining members, the Mississaugas of Alnwick, settled on Grape Island in the Bay of Quinte.

Prior to European infiltration, the Mississaugas lived an Ojibway lifestyle, by means of fishing, hunting deer and small game, and gathering of wild rice, berries and herbs. The use of birch bark in the making of canoes, baskets and covered shelters were evident. Tribes were sub-divided into “clans”, represented by varied animal totems, with each clan responsible for certain responsibilities within the overall structure of the Nation.

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During the formation of Upper Canada, the Mississauga Ojibways acted as allies to the British Crown. In 1830, an area of land in the present day Township of Alnwick, was granted as the “Alderville” Reserve by Lieutenant-Governor Sir John Colborne.

Alderville First Nation is signatory to the Williams Treaty of 1923, the last of Canada’s historical treaty agreements to be documented. A total of seven southern Ontario Mississauga and Chippewa Nations fall under this agreement, which not only included surrender of their ancestral homeland, but also hunting and fishing rights. Negotiations between the Government of Canada and the affiliated First Nations continue to today.

Geography

Alderville First Nation is located approximately 30 kilometers north of Cobourg, Ontario, along the southern shores of Rice Lake. With a registered population nearing 1,000, approximately 300 members reside on-reserve. Covering 1,216 hectares of land, Alderville First Nation is affiliated with the “United Indian Councils of the Mississauga and Chippewa Nations Tribal Council” and the “Union of Ontario Indians – Southeast Region”.

Arts and Culture

Alderville First Nation has remained active in restoring and maintaining a rich and vibrant connection to their ancestral heritage and culture within their community. A roster of festive celebrations ensures a strong connection to tradition and cultural distinction.

Alderville First Nation is host to an annual pow wow, generally held in late July. Traditional Anishinabeg dancing, drumming, ceremonies and menu are celebrated, with all visitors welcome. 2004 marked the 10th anniversary of this drug and alcohol free event.

The “Annual Alderville Regatta” is held in August at Vimy Ridge, along the south shore of Rice Lake. Community swimming, canoeing and outboard racing competitions are rounded out by a barbeque, children’s activities and evening dance.

Through late fall and winter months, the Alderville Community Centre hosts a series of traditional “Drum Socials” which include drumming, dancing and feasting.

The “Alderville Drummers” perform within their community, as well as at neighboring pow wows and First Nations focused events. The drum group, directed by John Mattson, practices the “Seven Grandfather Teachings”, teaching not only the art of the learning instrument, but also respect, strength and kinship among its members. The group instills and promotes positive activity and is targeted at young men, ages eight to eighteen.

Alderville First Nation is home to a number of local artisans, with works on display in community shops and galleries.

Randy P. Smoke, a native Alderville Anishinabeg, owns and operates the “Open Art Studio”, established in 2005. A graduate of The Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe, New Mexico, Randy creates oil paintings that portray an authentic representation of traditional First Nation’s heritage and history. Painting in the style of realism, his works are becoming widely recognized, and his studio is attracting a stream of annual visitors.

Rick Beaver, an internationally recognized Mississauga Ojibway artist, operates “Sweetgrass Studios” from his home and birthplace of Alderville First Nation. In addition to his twenty year career as a successful, professional painter, Rick is an avid conservationist, and was appointed the position of “Natural Heritage Coordinator” for Alderville First Nation in 2000.

Achievements and Progression

The Black Oak Savanna and Tallgrass Prairie regions of Alderville First Nation are a remnant of one of the most endangered and rarest ecosystems in the world. Once covering an area of 90 million hectares across central Canada and the United States, less than one percent of these original grasslands remain.

Initiated by the urgings of local artist and environmentalist, Rick Beaver in 2000, Chief and Council of Alderville First Nation were instrumental in launching conservation efforts for restoration and maintenance of the Black Oak Savanna grasslands within Alderville’s boundaries.

As of 2006, Alderville First Nation is partnered with five committed allies that forms the “Rice Lake Joint Plains Initiative”. The RLJPI publishes educational guides for landowners and the general public on the importance of recognizing and contributing to the conservation efforts of the 48.5 hectare (120 acre) endangered grasslands site.

“Kawartha Lakes Spirit Walks” offers the ideal opportunity to experience true environmental appreciation of the Black Oak Savanna through seasonal guided tours. Four “nature walk themes” are available, with experienced interpreters offering insight into the areas’ natural trees, grasses, wildflowers and butterflies, and also, cultural and spiritual history of the original Mississauga Ojibway Tribes of Alderville.

2007 marks the 80th anniversary of the construction of the “Alderville War Monument”. Considered one of the most prominent and remarkable monuments in the world, it was the first of its kind to be erected in Canada that commemorated and honored the service of First Nations veterans in World War I.

Alderville First Nation is a thriving, evolving community, displaying a diverse selection of independently run businesses and successful entrepreneurial ventures, with an emphasis on celebrating and honoring their Anishinabeg roots.

By way of embracing the true essence of their Mississauga Ojibway heritage and culture and harnessing the knowledge and opportunities required to move forward into the future, the people of Alderville First Nation seem to have found the perfect balance.

Just the Facts Please (Source: 2006 Statistics Canada Census)

2006 Population 506

2001 Population 358

Population Fluctuation +41.3%

Land Area (square km) 12.52

Population Density (per square km) 40.4

Total Private Dwellings 237

Total Population 15 Years and Over 79.7%

Knowledge of Aboriginal Language 5.5%