Indigenous Connections with Kawagama Lake

Moorelands Kids recognizes that many Indigenous nations have long standing relationships with the territories upon which we are located that precede our establishment. We acknowledge our presence in Toronto on the traditional territory of the Mississaugas of the Credit, the Anishnabeg, the Chippewa, the Haudenosaunee and the Wendat peoples; and at Moorelands Camp on Kawagama Lake on the traditional territory of the Anishnabeg and Huron-Wendat peoples.

In celebration of National Indigenous History Month, we wanted to learn some more about the history of beautiful Kawagama Lake and its first people whose connection to this territory continues.

We have been told that the word “Kawagama” itself is pronounced differently in native tongue than the anglicized version that many of us know, click here to listen. Please let us know if you know more about the pronunciation or meaning of the word!

Before the arrival of Europeans, the Anishinaabe and Huron-Wendat were the main occupants of the areas around Kawagama Lake. The Anishinaabe are also known as the Ojibwe or anglicized as Chippewa. The term Anishinaabe does not refer to just the Ojibwe people but is a collective term that refers to the group of culturally related Indigenous peoples who share related Algonquian languages, and have specific historical ties to the Ojibwe, the Potawatomi, and the Odawa peoples. 

The area around Kawagama Lake is subject to various treaties including the Robinson-Huron Treaty of 1850 and the Williams Treaties of 1923 that preserve Indigenous territory rights.

For the Anishinaabe people, Lake Superior is “Gichigamiing”- the “great water” or “sea.” For the Anishinaabe, water and Gichigamiing have always held importance. The lakes and water were key for transportation in birch bark canoes that were specifically designed for navigation in the lakes. Fishing was more important than hunting and there was an abundance of fish such as pike, sturgeon, and whitefish in the rushing, cold waters. This fishing abundance, and the large quantities of freshwater, keep the Kawagama Lake region quite significant to many peoples past and present.

Freshwater was key for agriculture and the growth of pumpkins, squash, and corn as well as manoomin, a wild rice that grows on water. 

For the Anishinaabek, Mushkegowuk and Onkwehonwe in Ontario, water is the bringer of life as women bring babies into the world carried on by the breaking of the water. The Anishinaabek believe in sharing common ownership and responsibility for water and in using Anishinabek traditional knowledge to move towards sustainable management of water.

We at Moorelands Kids recognize the responsibility to be good stewards and take care of our water resources around Kawagama Lake that is made clear in Indigenous teachings. 

We acknowledge the Indigenous water declaration and its teachings;

“Our responsibility is to the future generations – for those children yet unborn…”

Assembly of first nations. (2008). “Water Declaration of the AnishinaabekMushkegowuk and Onkwehonwe.” Toronto, Ontario: 1–6. Available at https://www.afn.ca/uploads/files/water/08-10-00.pdf Accessed June 23, 2020.

At Moorelands Kids, we recognize that youth are key to moving towards sustainability and protecting our important natural heritage and water resources. Through educational opportunities and experiences that highlight the importance of water, our youth can play a positive role in environmental stewardship.

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