The Ojibway community of Naotkamegwanning First Nation, also known as Whitefish Bay, is located in the Lake of the Woods region in North Western Ontario in the heart of the Treaty #3 Territory. The nearest township of Sioux Narrows is 15 km away and the nearest urban center Kenora is 96 km north of Naotkamegwanning First Nation. The community has year-round road access and also has an ice road in winter. There are 712 community members living in Naotkamegwanning First Nation and an additional 496 community members living outside the community.
Naotkamegwanning is known in the territory as one of the very few communities that have been able to keep their Anishinaabe cultural practices and beliefs strong and vibrant with 48% of the population able to speak their Ojibway language. This is a remarkable feature given that nationally in Canada, of the population that self-identified themselves as being Aboriginal, only 24% indicated they spoke an Aboriginal language.
As part of the cultural identity, the community is home to the White Fish Bay singers, who are leaders in preserving traditional culture through songs shared. They have traveled all over Canada and internationally and have been a champion drum since 1989. They have released over 10 recordings and are well known in Aboriginal communities in Canada and United States. Many of the people of Naotkamegwanning continue a connection with the land and maintain a lifestyle that includes fishing, hunting and harvesting of wild rice. The importance of passing on teachings, language and cultural practices are evident in their delivery of programs and services within the community.
Naotkamegwanning is a community that strives for self-sufficiency and has a number of facilities that offer programs and services within the community. These include:
- Baibombeh Anishinaabe School (Kindergarten to Grade 12)
- Mino’ Giizhigad Elders Centre (Supportive Housing)
- Naotkamegwanning Health Centre (Clinic /Traditional Care)
- Naotkamegwanning Emergency Medical Service (Ambulatory services/paramedics)
- Naotkamegwanning Head Start Program
- Naotkamegwanning Alternative High School
- Naotkamegwanning Women’s Shelter
- Naotkamegwanning Administration Office
- Naotkamegwanning Social Services Administration Office
- Black River Camp (Youth & Elder Cultural Camp)
Other programs and services that have set up an office within the community include:
- Treaty #3 Police Service
- Anishinaabe Abinoojii Family Services – Prevention Program
- Anishinaabe Abinoojii Family Services – Child Protection Program
In addition to all the programs and services offered in the community, the cultural aspect is enhanced with the traditional Roundhouse and pow wow grounds. An important shared characteristic amongst all the programs and services offered with Naotkamegwanning is the cultural component which is mandatory for all service providers.
Elder and Senior Care
Currently, approximately 5% or 36 members are seniors over 65 years of age and older. In terms of aging and health of Naotkamegwanning residents, the leadership and service providers are responsive to the changing needs of the Elder. The role of the family to offer support for their Elder is always encouraged.
In 2007, the integration of Long Term Care and the Home and Community Care programs has developed into the Community Care Program. This integrated model of care for Elders and people living with disabilities is a single point of access and customized care plans for those requiring service within their homes or in the Mino’ Giizhigad Elders Centre. Most people receiving support live independently in their own homes. Elders are a vital source of information and guidance on the many programs, services and governance within Naotkamegwanning First Nation.